Monday, July 20, 2009

McCarthy report a “savage attack” on public services, workers & welfare recipients

Sligo éirígí activist Gerry Casey has described the McCarthy report as a “savage attack” on essential public services, on workers and on those dependent on social welfare. He said the proposed cutbacks would significantly increase the levels of poverty and inequality in our society and would further decimate essential health and education services.

Amongst the most severe of the proposed cutbacks are the following:

Ø 5% reduction in social welfare paymentsJustify Full

Ø 20% reduction in child benefit

Ø €5 charge per prescription for medical card holders

Ø Reduction in medical card income limits

Ø 17,000 public sector job cuts

Ø 6,000 job cuts in health service

Ø 7,000 job cuts in education service

Ø Public sector pay cuts

Ø Removal of 2,000 special needs assistants

Casey said: “The cutbacks proposed by this report are a savage attack on workers and the less well off in our society. They will result in untold suffering for thousands of families. They are also another serious blow for essential public services such as health and education which have already been decimated by cutbacks in staff numbers and the provision of services over the past twelve months.

He added: “Despite the sweeping cuts being proposed, nowhere does this report refer to the multi-billion oil and gas reserves off our coast in the Corrib gas field and elsewhere. The wealth generated from these fields could be used to combat this recession and to provide essential funding for public services which have already seen their budgets and resources slashed and which this report is proposing to slash even further. Rather than proposing, or even discussing, the nationalisation of these valuable resources, they have instead focused their report on how they can target our health and education services, target our workers and target the most vulnerable sections of our society.”

“The savage nature of these proposals reveals a mindset which has no concern for the living standards and well-being of low paid workers, of families on welfare or of people in need of medical care. The central theme of the report is that public sector workers and the poorest sections of our society must be made to pay for the corruption and greed of the political and business classes which led to the current economic crisis. Workers are viewed as commodities to be used and disposed of to create profits for the political and business elite in this state.”

Casey concluded: “There must be no compromise in our attitude to these proposed cutbacks. They must be resisted by all means necessary - by the trade unions, by political parties that represent workers interests and by working class communities throughout this state. We must organise and take to the streets to prevent these cuts being implemented, to reverse the cuts already imposed over the past twelve months and to defend the rights and living standards of workers and the less well off in our society.”

Responding to the report, éirígí chairperson Brian Leeson said: “This report reflects the thinking of a government committed to a failed neo-liberal ideology.

“While Colm McCarthy may have chaired the group, Fianna Fáil’s fingerprints are all over it. For the last 12 years, Fianna Fáil in government has been more interested in supporting the interests of a privileged elite in Irish society than addressing the needs of the majority. Rather than investing in public services and developing universal health and education systems, it chose to facilitate private profiteering.

“Working class communities in rural and urban areas are suffering because of the greed of Fianna Fáil’s developer friends. Not content to risk billions of euros of taxpayers’ money in bailing out the very people who created the economic mess, Fianna Fáil, through their proxy Colm McCarthy, is proposing both utter devastation upon the most vulnerable in Irish society and the gutting of the public sector. This cannot and will not be allowed to happen.

“éirígí is calling upon communities, workers, trade unions and activists to mobilise in their tens of thousands to prevent these cuts. It is the only way in which they can be stopped. The choice now is simple: the business and political class wish to cement a society based on greed and poverty for the majority, the rest of us must build a vision of a country based on public ownership and a decent life for all.”

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