Austerity scandal 'must be stopped'


Fergus Finlay of Barnardos has said the “austerity scandal” has meant people who do not have a voice have suffered the most since the collapse of the so-called Celtic Tiger.

He was speaking at a Claiming Our Future event earlier today, during which the group launched its “Plan B” campaign it says can generate jobs and protect frontline services in advance of the next Budget.

“Political choices that have been made since the Celtic Tiger started to collapse have all been in one direction and the consequences are plain to be seen now,” Mr Finlay said.

“What I think ought to be infuriating all of us and mobilising all of us is the fact that it is only people who don’t have a voice who have suffered in the main from the austerity choices that have been made.”

He said government departments would be defending their budgets over the next few months. The Coalition would try to cut as much as possible in order to raise less through taxation, despite the fact that Ireland had a lower tax take than any other country in Europe outside the Baltic States, he said.

“The austerity scandal has to be stopped in its tracks. We can’t continue to allow services for the most vulnerable people in Ireland to be cut back again and again and again.”

Claiming Our Future is a non-party political collection of organisations including trade unions, community groups and disability representatives.

The group’s spokesman Dr Rory Hearne, a community regeneration worker, said many people the organisation was concerned about had already reached a “crisis point” in their lives.

“The Budget is looming and if we want to avoid further devastation now is the time to act,” he said.

Dr Hearne said Claiming Our Future was not prepared to accept unemployment at historically high levels and a generation of young people “facing years of dole queues and forced emigration”.

He called for what he described as a “national conversation” about the “Plan B” campaign and asked people to show their support by signing an online petition as a way of “letting their political representatives know how they feel”.

NUI Maynooth lecturer Dr Mary Murphy said austerity had failed to deliver the results that were promised.

“Plan B identifies sources of investment to create jobs. It proposes tax reform that will ensure that those with the most pay the most and it prioritises public services that our families and community rely on”.