“Despite all attempts at camouflage, the Government has announced a series of attacks on the poor and on public services on which the poor are most dependent. The Labour Party should hang its head in shame for reneging on its promise to protect the poor”, Deputy Seamus Healy has stated.
Reacting to Monday’s Budget, Mr. Healy said: “The six week cut to the fuel allowance on top of the reduction in free electricity and gas units applied in September is a savage attack on the elderly.
“Research on fuel poverty and older people by the Dublin Institute of Technology and the Institute of Public Health shows that during the winter of 2006/7 there were 1,281 excess winter deaths. Of these, the vast majority were older people (1,216 were aged over-65)”.
“There is real concern about older people who live alone on low incomes in older and poorly insulated homes and who often have poor health or a physical disability. This contrasts sharply with the approval by the Taoiseach of a 35,000 rise for a government adviser”.
“The cut in Disability Allowance for young people aged 18 to 21 from €188 a week to €100 defies description. The same allowance for those aged 22 to 24 years of age is cut from €188 to €140. The cut in child benefit for the third and subsequent children attacks families most at risk of poverty. Those whose incomes have already fallen due to short-time working will suffer a further reduction”.
“Eligibility for the widows pension is to be further restricted through a large increase in necessary contributions and working widows will also be deprived of sickness and unemployment benefit. In the health service the moratorium will continue to reduce the number of nurses and healthcare assistants in our hospitals reducing care to patients. Minister Reilly has said that the effective cut in Health Provision is really 830 million per annum and this puts closure of community and elderly hospitals at risk of closure. Cluain Árainn, St Patrick’s Hospital Cashel and hospitals in Carrick-on –Suir , Clogheen and Thurles are in serious danger”.
Mr. Healy said the effective pupil/ teacher ratio in second level schools was being raised by bringing career guidance teachers within quota.