Healy says No as meeting rejects budget

A public meeting in Clonmel heard that people should 'say no' to cuts made in last December's budget.

A public meeting in Clonmel heard that people should 'say no' to cuts made in last December's budget.

Saturday's meeting was organised by the Worker's and Unemployed Action Group as a finale to their campaign against the budget, which included a leaflet drop and advertisements in local papers.

Cllr Seamus Healy, who called the Main Guard meeting, said that "a bleak new New Year has started as savage budget cuts and tax increases take effect fleecing low and middle-income families.

"The pay cheque has been reduced by higher tax on very low incomes. The welfare payment is down. Those claiming for a spouse have suffered a double drop. Private sector occupational pensions, even those below the minimum wage equivalent, are down due to the new universal social charge. Public sector pensions have suffered a greater reduction due to an additional direct cut.

"Unbelievably, non-wage incomes above €120,000 per year including top failed bankers pensions have been increased by the budget provisions. To add further insult to injury, N.A.M.A. has now confirmed that it intends to waive developer's debt."

Other speakers at the public meeting were Breda Felle, a UNITE trade union member and community worker in Waterford, and Paddy Healy who is a former president of the TUI union and has recently retired from lecturing at DIT Kevin Street.

Speaking at the meeting Cllr Healy said there is "a need for fundamental political change."

"Both Fine Gael and Labour have bought into the consensus for cuts. They will impose further cuts and tax increases and will merely tinker with the system as they blame the current government. They will enforce the policies of the international bankers and speculators represented by the IMF and the EU commission. These policies cannot work and will lead to further misery.

Say "No" to the Budget cuts and tax increases," Cllr Healy said.

He added; "Unemployment has already increased. The reduction in demand caused by the budget provisions will close more small shops and ruin many more self-employed individuals causing further unemployment and emigration. Even medium and large businesses will close.

Those keeping students at third level will pay a further €500 per year from their reduced incomes.

The budget increase of 20% in the cost of a semi-private hospital bed is partly responsible for the increase in plan B VHI cover of up to 45%. Older people who can't wait in long queues for treatment will be heavily affected. Those in the VHI are paying their taxes and health levy in addition to premiums. Yet the government says that they must pay the full economic cost of hospital treatment."

The Clonmel based county councillor told The Nationalist that it has now emerged that students and their parents have been targeted for "special" cuts in the recent budget.

"Many students will lose over 50% of the grant. The current additional Top Up Grant, available to those on low incomes, is also being reduced by €3,810.In many cases, these grant changes will be the difference between students being able to attend 3rd level or being forced onto the dole queues or being forced to emigrate.

"These changes will effect both existing grant holders and new grant applicants. For example, students from Carrick-on-Suir and those living up as far as Kilsheelan attending Waterford Institute of Technology will see their grants cut from €3,120 to €1,250- a loss of €1,870. Similarly, Tipperary Town Students attending the University of Limerick, The Limerick Institute of Technology or Mary Immaculate Training College will loose €1,870, over half of the grant."

He says that many Tipperary Students attending the Tipperary Institute at Thurles and Clonmel will also be affected.

"These changes amount to an outrageous attack on students and their parents and must be withdrawn."