The €6bn bloodbath
FINANCE Minister Brian Lenihan is preparing to unleash a €6bn Budget bloodbath on December 7.
He will unveil the figure today, a day after violence flared on the streets of Dublin over plans to hike college fees.
The €6bn will be one of the biggest cutbacks in a single Budget in the history of the State -- and double the original planned cuts.
It represents a large chunk of the daunting €15bn which has to be slashed by 2014.
The bloody scenes outside the Department of Finance in Merrion Row, Dublin yesterday came as up to 20,000 students protested over proposals to increase college registration fees.
A group of activists clashed with gardai in riot gear after they occupied the lobby of the department building.
A handful were left with cuts and bloodied heads as officers moved to eject the group from the building while scores more staged a sit-down protest outside.
Three people were arrested after yesterday's protest turned violent, while a number were also brought to hospital suffering head injuries after gardai drew their batons.
Earlier, Taoiseach Brian Cowen's coalition was rocked by a damning High Court judgment that it had unreasonably delayed the by-election in Donegal South-West.
The Government is now being forced to hold the by-election within weeks, as it struggles to cope with mounting fury in the build-up to the Budget.
The Irish Independent can today reveal that the embattled Government also risks incurring the wrath of pensioners in next month's Budget.
As part of its savage cuts, the Department of Finance is considering withdrawing the over-70s automatic entitlement to free household benefits such as electricity, gas and telephone allowances.