The future prosperity, or lack thereof, of families and individuals throughout the length and breadth of Ireland will be determined next week when the coalition Government unveils its inaugural budget.
It is the first of a number of painful budgets which have been signalled by political leaders, as the nation strives to regain its economic strengths and competitiveness.
Already there have been leaks indicating measures which will certainly be most unpalatable and representatives of the likes of students, medical card holders, householders, the elderly and those on social welfare have protested loudly against what is believed to be contained in the annual estimates of revenue and expenditure.
It has been calculated that, by the time the budgets of the next few years are implemented, families in this country will have seen a drop in monthly income of approximately €1,200, a whopping sum which will lead to severe hardship and considerable strain on the vast majority of people.
It is a huge price to pay for the sins of other, many of whom still enjoy the trappings of wealth and have at their disposal perks and pensions the envy of the tens of thousands of hard working individuals in mainstream employment.
It is a reality that none of those who were directly, or indirectly, responsible for the dreadful state in which we find ourselves have been held to brook. They have walked away with outrageous lump sums, enormous annual payments and a lifestyle not that far removed from when they were in positions of extraordinary power and influence.
They have no worry in relation to negative equity, education of their young or fulfilling their economic obligations from month to month. Indeed, nor are they amongst the many thousands more who have become victims of cutbacks in their work places and who see no future in the Ireland of today.
The human tragedy of this despicable mess can be somewhat lost in the overall picture and it would have helped if those are suffering most had seen somebody held accountable for the situation in which they find ourselves.
Nonetheless, we as a nation are now left to carry the consequences of the behaviour of a few but the one positive factor to have emerged in recent years is the dignity and composure of the people of this country at one of the worst periods in the nation’s history. Unlike elsewhere, there have not been violent demonstrations and angry scenes as people struggled to understand where it all went wrong and why those responsible have not been made answerable for their excesses - and their abdication of the country’s financial wellbeing.
For that the people of this country deserve great credit. It would have been all too easy to vehemently reject any austerity measures and, as a consequence, to consign this country to even greater financial ills.
The next few days will prove to be extremely distressing for many families throughout the country. They will fear for their future and will be put to the pin of their collar to meet the obligations which will be imposed upon them in next week’s budget. In that respect it behoves those in authority to ensure that any measures introduced are as equitable as is possible and that the burden does not unfairly weigh most heavily on any one sector of society.