Head of child charity issues call for Budget street protests
THE head of the country's leading children's charity has urged people to take to the streets if the Government cuts social welfare benefits in the Budget.
Fergus Finlay of Barnardos admitted he was "secretly ashamed" that the public didn't march last year after the cuts.
Pleading for children and vulnerable families to be left alone in the Budget, he said he hoped "thousands and thousands of people" would take to the streets if there were more cuts.
Mr Finlay, who has declared an interest in running for President, said the Government hadn't the "remotest intention" of cutting old age pensions in next month's Budget.
"But nobody is out there beating their chests and saying we will bring the government down if we make children hungry."
He was speaking following publication of the charity's 'Dreading December 2010' report.
The report warns of:
- An increasing reliance on moneylenders;
- A surge in domestic violence;
- More children going hungry and waiting longer for medical treatment;
- Families seeking diagnosis from pharmacists because they can't afford a doctor.
"There's a real sense of dread in communities across the country" about the Budget, Mr Finlay said.
But those communities had "nothing left to give''.
The Barnardos report recommends that basic adult social welfare rates be maintained and child benefits left at their current rate.
Barnardos project coordinator Carmel O'Donovan revealed how one family were without electricity for three weeks before they managed to pay for reconnection.
"The parents struggled to keep their children in clean clothes and help them with their homework while it was still light. They also had to take their children to friends' houses to give them a warm bath."