Members of Fine Gael and Labour were said this week to be scrambling to defuse a political timebomb after it was reported at the weekend that the Government planned a cut of 10 euro per week in old age pensions in the forthcoming budget.
Fine Gael Ministers, it seems, have laid the blame firmly with Social Protection Minister, Ms Joan Burton who is resisting pressure to find 400m euro worth of cuts in her department for Budget 2014.
The coalition parties had good reason to be concerned. They will remember only too well the ‘grey vote rebellion’ in 2008 when the then Government cut back on the automatic entitlement to a medical card for the over-70s.
Then ‘senior citizens’ demonstrated their mettle and left the Government in absolutely no doubt about their resolve - and their intention to fight with all their might any attempt to remove from them entitlements which they believed they had earned after decades of service.
A spokesman for the Taoiseach has re-assured people that there will be no reduction in the old-age pension. Let us hope that this is an end to the matter. For there is absolutely no doubt that if this Government attempts to reduce, in any fashion, the entitlements of pensioners they will be met with a fury the likes of which they have never seen before. If they persist they will certainly have met their match.