With Christmas fast approaching the country is bracing itself for a savage budget. The Government has sent a very strong signal that the low-paid, those out of work and middle income earners will bear the brunt of harsh spending cuts and tax increases. The country’s top earners and the wealthy will be spared yet again. Undoubtedly we will see further hardship and more citizens living in poverty.
While canvassing recently I met a sixty-one year old woman who was shivering at the door. She ran out of heating oil and had no money to fill the tank. My heart sank as she told me she was a recovering cancer patient and I watched her tremble with cold before my eyes. Thanks to a local charity she received some assistance. I met another family of four children where both parents lost their jobs. They are unable to pay the mortgage. They cried as they showed me dozens of unpaid bills and talked about their fears for Christmas. These are the people who will get squeezed further in the budget while bondholders who invested in private banks will get billions from the Government. It is immoral and sickening.
Tens of thousands of families across the country face similar hardship. Many will be driven to unscrupulous moneylenders just to survive. The cost of Christmas will add to the pressure. The impending budget will push many over the edge. Moneylenders thrive in such circumstances. It is not the solution for these families but many are left with little choice. The answer to a debt problem is not to incur further debt.
And yet this is exactly what the Government is doing. Tonight they have concluded a very bad deal for the Irish people. They will incur further debt to pay existing debt. They will pay unrealistic and exorbitant interest rates and will ensure that a quarter of all state income will go to servicing our debt. Meanwhile they will continue to honour private banking debt that has nothing to do with the Irish people. For struggling families and Irish taxpayers generally the only winners in these times are national and international moneylenders. And how shameful is that?