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Ireland: The Devastating Social Impact of Economic Austerity Measures

category national | worker & community struggles and protests | opinion/analysis author Sunday December 09, 2012 20:26author by Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáinauthor email caoimhghin at yahoo dot com Report this post to the editors

Targeting young families, the elderly and the sick, as the government slashes child benefits, triples prescription charges and rubber-stamps controversial property tax.

Another political party is selflessly sacrificing itself to the ‘preying’ mantis of the Irish establishment. We are seeing the Labour Party (in coalition with the conservative Fine Gael) being slowly ingested before our eyes as they struggle to justify their support for the recent right wing austerity budget to an increasingly angry populace.

Even the usually calm and collected silver tongues of the party are starting to get nervous. The last political victim of the establishment Mantis was the Green Party [1] who were coaxed into a coalition by the establishment’s Fianna Fáil [2] party in 2007. The angry public had its revenge in the 2011 election when the Greens lost all their seats in the Dáil (Parliament) and Fianna Fáil itself succumbed to exhaustion and had its own meltdown after the collapse of the Celtic Tiger economy.

There were demonstrations and scuffles [3] with Gardaí during the budget debate (5/12/2012) and more recently (7/12/2012) a group of about 250 carers and their families [4] protested outside Leinster House against the cut of €325 to the annual €1,700 respite care grant announced in Wednesday’s Budget.

According to author and campaigner Paddy Doyle:

“There’s no question or doubt about it that any vulnerable group, be they elderly, be they carers – the few I’ve met here are exhausted. You can see it in their faces that they’re just worn out. They’re saving the State a fortune,” he added.

The campaign group Social Justice Ireland [5] director, Fr Seán Healy, said that for the second year in a row the Government had perpetrated a transfer of wealth from the poor to the prosperous. He noted that:

“Budget 2012 saw 40 per cent of the population on lowest incomes take a far higher proportionate ‘hit’ than the richest 10 per cent. Budget 2013 continues this process.”

And it looks like some people won’t be just reading Dickens this Christmas but will be experiencing a Dickensian one as well. According to the president of St Vincent de Paul [6], Geoff Meagher, there are families that “are choosing to go without heating their homes as they struggle to afford the basics.” He also said that:

“It’s not just this budget, it’s the result of a cumulative effect of tough budgets that have happened in the past few years. They are pushed into poverty when they cannot afford the basics such as food, heating and education, with fuel being the first thing to go as it is usually most expensive.”

Anger is growing at a budget [7] which is targeting young families, the elderly and the sick, as the government slashes child benefits, triples prescription charges and rubber-stamps the hugely-controversial property tax. What is galling [8] many people in Ireland is that this is all being facilitated by a Labour Party which according to one of the tenets of its Principles [9] states: “Equality implies reorganising society with the specific object of creating a more equal distribution of wealth and power, and not just opportunities for individuals to become powerful or wealthy.” Under another Principle it is stated that “the spirit of Community places Labour on the side of the oppressed.” However, it is beginning to look like if these austerity measures continue much longer, the community is going to place Labour on the side of the unemployed.










Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin is a prominent Irish artist who has exhibited widely around Ireland. His work consists of paintings based on cityscapes of Dublin, Irish history and geopolitical themes ( His blog of critical writing based on cinema, art and politics along with research on a database of Realist and Social Realist art from around the world can be viewed country by country at

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author by Tpublication date Tue Dec 11, 2012 23:08Report this post to the editors

Whilst there is clearly anger over FG and Labour it is regrettable, I can see that some people are going to go back to FF and start voting for them again and they could easily become the largest party again. Unfortunately people seem to fall for this farce of the multi-main party horse race and somehow think that it represents democracy. It doesn't because they are all in the pockets of the corporates.

Labour were betraying their support base as far back as the 1970s so there is nothing new there. I don't know what it will take to actually change anything in Irish society and political culture but so far nothing has changed and the system still trundles on.

RBB gave a good speech this afternoon in the Dail when he put it to Enda Kenny that he enthusiastically defends and follows the dictates of the corporate and business sector but when representations are made by people for the poor, sick and disable they are largely ignored. Enda's reply avoid the direct question and skipped around it.

author by we the peoplepublication date Tue Dec 11, 2012 23:19Report this post to the editors

Until we start to get off the internet and TV,and do something orgnaise a protest,in large,large numbers..What is see unfortunately is more of the same..Unless we the people affect change and demand resignations in the dail chambers,particulary of pat rabbite and enda kenny..

Pat rabbite said recently to a question put to him about the miselading protect the poor slogans,''well isnt that what you do in an election..Disgusting

He was asked why his 100,000 + salary was not touched,he gave no response..

These are the people we have representing us apparantely.

There are smaller parties that the media at large are doing their best to ignore,such as direct democracy ireland etc..

Here is a link:

Worth a look

author by Tpublication date Sun Dec 23, 2012 23:19Report this post to the editors

In a report from the WSWS site about Merkels Xmas message the real content of which was revealed in an interview with her in the Financial Times, she makes it clear the social welfare system is the target and the financial oligarchy whom she represents intend to dismantle it in Europe.

This from the report:

This year, however, Merkel relayed her real message in an interview with the Financial Times, titled “Merkel warns on cost of welfare”. In the interview published last weekend, Merkel makes it clear that she regards European welfare programs as unsustainable.

Faced with growing international competition, Europe “must work very hard to maintain its prosperity and way of life,” said Merkel. “All of us have to stop spending more than we earn each year.”

To give some idea of the magnitude of the cutbacks she is seeking, Merkel cited the following figures: “Europe today accounts for just over 7 percent of the world’s population, produces around 25 percent of global GDP, and has to finance 50 per cent of global social spending.”

Merkel’s appeal, made in the style of a thrifty housewife, is thoroughly cynical. It is made by a chancellor who, in the course of her tenure, has made over 700 billion euros available for the so-called bailout of German banks—in fact securing the profits of an obscenely wealthy mob of financial speculators and profiteers......

....The financial crisis has been used to accelerate the enrichment of the rich at the expense of the public. According to government figures, private net assets in Germany increased by 1.4 trillion euros between 2007 and 2012, i.e., during the crisis years. While the government pumped vast amounts of money into the vaults of the banks, it created a huge pool of people at the bottom of society condemned to poverty, misery and despair reminiscent of the 1930s.

In Greece, Merkel has demonstrated the consequences of such attacks on the welfare state. Five austerity programs dictated by the EU, but worked out largely in the chancellor’s office, have plunged the country into ruin. Unemployment has soared, wages and pensions have been slashed, and the country’s health and education systems destroyed. Now fascist gangs and far-right political parties are being encouraged to suppress growing popular resistance. What is currently taking place in Greece is a monstrous political crime.

In her FT interview, the German chancellor makes clear that Greek shock therapy should be extended to Spain, Portugal and Italy, as well as countries with a balanced budget. Amongst these latter countries Merkel is referring to France and Germany.

So in this last sentence it should be seen the attack is going to be not just the peripheral countries but those at the very heart of Europe too. It is time people wake up and realize that this is a full scale class war and nothing less.

Full text at the link below:

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