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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Celebration Time? Come on!

I’ve a lot of time for Fine Gael. Let alone some of my friends, some of my family would be Fine Gael. Government is about change and it’s also about giving hope. To be fair
this government has at least had the competence and credibility that its predecessor could only envy. Credibility is a valuable currency, it can be earned and built on but when its lost its
lost and gone for ever. Enda Kenny may not be a Garret Fitzgerald but he’s no Brian Cowen either. That’s why his government is credible.

Both Labour and fine Gael ran on different policies during the General Election ironically side showing the outgoing government intellectually in debates. Despite this the present government is working well as it has put together a reasonable compromise programme for government.
Most objective people recognise this. So then why did Fine Gael wish to celebrate a year in government and on the day that the state owned bank AIB announced 2,500 job losses with the
Occupy Merrion Square stunt?

Interestingly the celebrations wished to highlight Fine Gael achievement in government as opposed to Government achivements. There are many government achievements that should be flagged; Anglo bondholders burnt, Minimum wage restored, Interest rate cut on the bail out,
continued adherence to the troika bailout package, household tax in place, successful promotion of the state by Obama and QE2 visit. While much needs to be done on reducing
unemployment the government has made a start on rebuilding a shattered economy,
but is it not too early and too little to celebrate? The country has stabilised but has it turned
the corner? I’m not so sure about that
What made Fine Gael different at the last election was the wish to end gaelige in our schools, restore stag hunting and abolish joint labour agreements and fillet the public service by 30,000. This clearly hasn’t happened and won’t be happening. Many Fine Gael backbenchers have called for the ending of the Croke Park Agreement. That hasn’t happened and it won’t be happening either. It’s due to run about 2 more years and will be renegotiated next year. It may well be a better year to renegotiate than this year. Economic conditions may allow a better deal for public sector workers in the future than at present. I suspect a few Fine Gael TD’s may think this too and see a closing window on their hopes for putting the boot into civilservants.

It may well be a matter of less to celebrate into the future for the back benchers. Earlier this week I was at a meeting organised by the INTO highlighting how the cutbacks in education had impacted in Wexford at primary level. While there was realism among the teachers as to how deep the financial trouble remains, there were few celebrations. So it will continue for sometime

3 comments:

Rory said...

Fair post Joe credit where credit is due,

The last budget there were cuts in children's allowance, fuel allowance, rent allowance and benefits to old age pensioners and the disabled in the form of things like electricity units. Yet the government claimed that nobody's basic income was cut. It seems that the poor had their incomes cut in a big way for the fourth straight budget.

There is mass emigration keeping the jobless numbers steady at 400,000 odd.

Where my people come from there is nothing to celebrate. This government must try harder.

Joe said...

In the intersts of accuarcy it has to be pointed out that the reduction in child benefit only applied to the 3rd and subsequest children. The winter fuel allowance is paid to elderly for 26weeks of the year, prviously winter apparently lasted 32 out of 52 weeks of the year!
What exactly do you mean by pensioners bieng cut? While there are still deep funadmental problems in the state, Unemplooyment has not reached the figures predicted, announced job losses have declined while there has been good news for Dundalk, Cork, Waterford and maybe we may hear something positive about Wexford soon? Unemployment is now below the June 2010 figure at a time when traditional destinations for Irish emigrants UK & US are in recession. employment is increasing

Rory said...

Joe,

In the last budget, pensioners had their fuel allowance cut by six weeks per year, a net weekly income loss of about €2 averaged over a full year.

They also had their free electricity units reduced from 400 to 300 per month. The telephone allowance was cut by €3.69 per month.

Those on rent allowance lost at least €6 per week.

If you add up these cuts it comes to almost €10 per week in lost income for many elderly or disabled people. Some on carer's allowance lost more.

The government said nobody had their basic income cut in the last budget. What they should have said was "Nobody who we regard as important had their basic income cut."

The jobless figures are being kept at a mere 400,000 by mass emigration. 50,000 people left the country last year and there seems to be no respite in this trend.