Cuts plan would have huge social consequences - Adams
Cuts plan would have huge social consequences - Adams

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has warned that if the report by the so-called ‘An Bord Snip Nua’ is implemented, its proposals would have devastating social consequences.

The swingeing cutbacks recommended by the report, published last week, have been followed by government suggestions that the minimum wage will also be cut.

A minimum of 17,358 public sector jobs are to be eliminated and all social welfare payments reduced by 5 per cent under the proposals, outlined in the report by UCD professor Colm McCarthy. Affecting almost every area of government expenditure, the cuts are intended to achieve up to five billion Euro in savings.

“As well as dismantling the health service, effectively abolishing the medical card system, slashing social welfare, increasing the pupil-teacher ratio in our already under-funded schools and reducing special needs assistants, the recommendations of this report directly threaten the future sustainability of rural communities,” Mr Adams said.

“Many communities across rural Ireland - particularly in the West and Border regions - never saw the wealth and prosperity that some enjoyed during the Celtic Tiger era.

“Now they, along with those people who are trying to survive on the lowest income levels, are to be asked to pay the heaviest price for the government’s mismanagement of the economy over the past decade and more.”

So-called ‘green shoots’ which have been reported to be appearing in other economies have not been spotted in Ireland, where most expect the recession to deepen.

Nearly seven hundreds jobs were lost last week at two multinational firms. A total of 370 redundancies were announced at Element Six industrial diamonds in county Clare, while a further 300 are to go at the giant Intel plant in County Kildare.

Employees had to be restrained from attacking the plant manager following the shutdown of manufacturing with minimal redundancy payments for workers at Element Six, which operates the former de Beers plant.

Meanwhile, unions have complained that staff at Irish Life and Permanent building society are being abused and spat upon by outraged mortgage holders following a new, unilateral increase in the bank’s interest rate, announced today.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen defended the McCarthy report and other policies under discussion which target lower and middle income groups.

Mr Cowen, who was himself forced to run a gauntlet of abuse from angry farmers this week, said nothing could be “immune” from examination.

The report was “a challenge that the country as a whole has to face”, and his government had a duty to “do the right thing by the country”, he said.

Mr Adams warned the proposals “would tear the heart out of rural communities and would have huge social consequences”.

Referring to the effect of the widespread closure of local post offices in recent years, he pointed to a number of proposed cuts which would “devastate” rural communities. These include the closure of rural primary schools and Garda stations, the end of funding for rural transport schemes and environmental farming, the removal of grants for regional airports and the closure of certain rail lines.

“The implementation of this plan would result once again in rural Ireland facing decimation from emigration and de-population,” he said.

“Under no circumstances should the Government accept these disastrous recommendations.”

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