A major demonstration is to go ahead on the streets of Dublin tomorrow against the savage cuts being imposed by an illegitimate government at the behest of greedy bankers, European bureaucrats and the International Monetary Fund.
Thousands are to stage a mass rally organised by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions to show support for alternative ways to tackle the economic crisis.
On Wednesday, the Fianna Fail/Green Party regime headed by Brian Cowen announced deep cuts in social welfare payments, a reduction in the minimum wage, a miniscule property tax and a sharp increase in taxation as part of a so-called ‘National Recovery Plan’.
Tax relief on pensions will be reduced dramatically and recipients of public sector pensions will face cuts for the first time, all to help pay for a bailout of Ireland’s failed banks and their international financiers.
The 140-page plan outlines a package of measures designed to reduce public spending by 10 billion euro and raise an extra 5 billion euro in taxes by 2014, almost half to be introduced in the 2011 budget, to be published on December 7th.
It remains unclear if the Dublin government will have enough support to pass it, with two controversial independent TDs, Jackie Healy-Rae and Michael Lowry, holding the balance of power in Leinster House.
EU and IMF officials are still ‘negotiating’ the terms of an 85 billion euro bailout but are believed to be increasingly dictating events to a client regime in Dublin. However, with the process due to conclude by Sunday, there is reported to be an increasing acceptance by EU/IMF officials that the 26 County state cannot honour all of the bonds issued by Ireland’s corrupted banking system during Cowen’s reign as Minister for Finance.
EU economic and monetary affairs commissioner Olli Rehn said that the 6 billion euro “adjustment” in the 2011 budget would be “appropriate”.
There has as yet been no comment from the head of the IMF in Ireland, Ajai ‘Chopper’ Chopra. However, the IMF is also believed to be concerned that a future government will refuse to honour debts incurred by an illegitimate administration in Dublin which retains power only by its refusal to allow elections to vacant parliament seats.
The government- and IMF-proposed budget cuts, have drawn a shocked reaction from all sectors of society, save the wealthy elite. The plans will slash child benefit and job seeker payments while at the same time imposing water charges and a property tax, increase VAT sales tax, increase energy taxes, cutt the minimum wage and bringing those on poverty wages into the tax net.
Sinn Fein Dail leader Caoimhghin O Caolain said his party was striving for national recovery for Ireland and would “strive day and night for that objective, to serve the real national interest, to work side by side with the Irish people in communities the length and breadth of this country.
“That is what we stand for.
“And for that reason, because we have the national interest at heart, because we want recovery, because we believe there is a better way forward, we must oppose the so-called ‘National Recovery Plan’ published yesterday by the Fianna Fail-Green Government.
“This is not a Plan for National Recovery - it is a Plan for National Impoverishment.
“This is an attack on the low paid. The plan simultaneously lowers the minimum wage and takes people on the minimum wage into the tax net. In total contrast to the attack on the low paid there is no increase in the tax rate for the highest earners.”
Sinn Fein spokesperson on social protection, Aengus O Snodaigh, said that the logic underpinning the welfare cuts is “insurmountably and indefensibly flawed”.
“The government plan, including its growth and deficit reduction predictions, is entirely dependent on the incredible expectation that if you penalize the jobless enough they will miraculously find gainful employment.”
He said that the government were proposing to “cripple” low income families and by extension, local economies resulting in further job losses.
“Speaking in a Primetime interview last night Finance Minister Brian Lenihan claimed ‘we all partied’ during the boom years. But that assertion is simply not true.
“Many, many people in my constituency were barely scraping by at the height of the so-called Celtic Tiger never mind partying. It is grossly unjust to make them pay now for the excesses of Minister Lenihan and his cronies in the banking sector.”
The chairperson of eirigi, Brian Leeson, labelled the Dublin government’s four-year fiscal adjustment plan “a criminal charter for the wrecking of working class communities”.
Leeson urged people to engage in “mass acts of civil disobedience in order to drive this government from power”.
The crisis that is being faced in the Twenty-Six Counties was much too serious to be solved by the simple act of a general election, he said.
“None of the establishment parties offer an alternative to the diktats of the IMF and the EU. Indeed, all of them are agreed that the corporation tax should remain at its current low level.
“What is required is the building of a mass movement led by working class communities, trade unions and leftist political parties that will take to the streets and stay on the streets until the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland is finally recognised.”
On Thursday, the opposition parties held a meeting with members of the IMF, the European Central Bank and the European Commission.
The main opposition party in the 26-Counties, Fine Gael, warned that European officials would demand further cuts next year.
“I want to tell the Commission we are not a colony, we are a sovereign government,” he said. “They should not be advocating solutions to Ireland that are beyond the scope of the treaties.”
Sinn Fein Dail leader Caoimhghin O Caolain TD said he told the IMF that they were neither wanted nor needed in Ireland and that they should go home.
“The IMF is not here to help the Irish economy,” he said. “We have a structural deficit that can be addressed through a range of measures, including those put forward by our party. The crisis in Ireland is a banking crisis and the Government is pursuing the most costly avenue to address that banking crisis. And now the IMF and the EU are fronting the cash for that policy.
“In this State, the IMF encouraged Government measures of low public spending as a percentage of GDP and low taxes. They added their voice to the series of inaccurate forecasts about growth in this State. We told the IMF that we are aware of their record across the globe where they have insisted on reactionary, anti-people measures.
“We want no interference from the IMF in our economy and no burdening of future generations with massive debt and regressive economic policies.”