Budget options on cuts and taxes


Sir, – The voices of Government backbenchers are rarely heard. In that context The Irish Times has done a service by allowing eight Fine Gael backbenchers to set out their view of budget options (Opinion, July 31st).

The message from the eight is forthright, but incomplete. They want more cuts in public spending, even if that is more than is necessary to meet the target agreed with our lenders, the troika. That much is clear.

What is not clear is where our Fine Gael colleagues want the cuts to fall. The bulk of public spending is on health, education and social protection. Would they cancel the recruitment of gardaí? Would they cut pensions? Would they reduce the number of people on medical cards? Would our Fine Gael colleagues have us sack public servants or cut their pay even further? Don’t they think that public servants have taken enough?

And, would they have us believe that any of the above could be done without adversely affecting patients, school children or pensioners?

In fairness to the Fine Gael TDs, they say that the scope acquired through additional cuts should be used for stimulus. This is a false choice. It ignores the fact that taking more than is needed out of the economy will itself have a deflationary effect. Moreover, the Government is already committed to a capital programme of €10 billion over the next three years. In addition, the €2.25 billion stimulus announced by Brendan Howlin in July 2012 will start to bear fruit next year. More stimulus will be made possible from the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, and proceeds from the sale of non-strategic state assets.

As Labour backbenchers we have signed up to a Programme for Government to save the country from bankruptcy. This programme entails increases in tax and cuts in spending. We signed up to those in order to get our country out of a serious mess – not because we are against spending on public services. Tough decisions have been necessary to get the country to where it now is. Recovery is in sight, though not yet secure. But we are not austerity junkies. We will do as much austerity as is needed to secure the recovery. Not a cent more. – Yours, etc,


Labour Party,

Dáil Éireann,

Kildare Street,

Dublin 2.

Sir, – An honest and open debate about the choices which Government has to make in Budget 2014 is to be welcomed (Opinion, July 31st).

As the largest charity of social action in Ireland, the Society of St Vincent de Paul is concerned that Budget 2014 will bring yet more cuts to the income supports and services relied upon by the people we assist and those who are struggling across the country. We acknowledge that our public finances must be placed on a sustainable path.

But we believe Government can choose to close the gap between Ireland’s revenue and expenditure in a fair and equitable way, while protecting vulnerable people and the services they need. This must be the Government’s priority.

Every person in Ireland deserves a living income in and out of work, but the level of austerity imposed over the last six budgets has made this aspiration impossible for thousands of individuals and families. Government should seriously examine the alternative options available in the areas of stimulating growth, improving efficiencies and generating revenue from corporations and individuals with higher incomes and assets that can afford to make a greater contribution to Ireland’s recovery.

To date there appears to be a single-minded approach that austerity is the solution. Clearly that approach is not working for thousands of people in Ireland.

Stimulating growth through quality employment creation is essential for our economic recovery, and as a people we also need hope for the future. But a continuous adherence to austerity measures that target those who are struggling only dampens economic activity and does nothing to offer hope to the unemployed, the families trying to make ends meet or the young people who believe that their only opportunity to earn a decent living is to emigrate.

We continue to export our youngest and best talent in the country. We must find ways to stop this. It will be a shame on us all if in 2016 our young people are still forced to emigrate.

We need more radical approaches to sustainable job creation and stimulating growth, but not at the expense of the supports and services that are needed by the most vulnerable in our society. Calculated risks will need to be taken, it is better to take those risks than continue with mass emigration, poverty and unemployment.

The thousands of families we in the SVP visit cannot take any more. These families include those who are experiencing long-term poverty and disadvantage, people in low-paid employment, and many who are self-employed or in good jobs with debts that they cannot handle.

This is why the Society of St Vincent de Paul has launched a campaign for fairness and an end to austerity in Budget 2014. We urge all those who support our message to go online at www.svp.ie/yourvoice and make their voice heard. – Yours, etc,


National President,

Society of St Vincent de Paul,

Sean MacDermott Street,

Dublin 1.

Sir, – What does it say about the level of internal debate in the Fine Gael party when eight of its backbench TDs feel that they have to write an article in The Irish Times (Opinion, July 31st) in order to communicate their views to Michael Noonan on the upcoming budget? – Yours, etc,


Mount Tallant Avenue,

Harolds Cross,

Dublin 6W.