Docs want booze and cigarette rise
DOCTORS have urged the Government to make smokers and tipplers bear the brunt of up to €1bn in health cuts.
They are calling for major price increases on cigarettes and alcohol instead of major planned hikes in hospital and others charges.
In its pre-Budget submission, the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) called for the Government to put an extra €2 tax on 20 cigarettes. IMO president Sean Tierney said there should be a sliding scale of alcohol taxes.
He warned the €1bn cuts combined with the ban on hiring and the loss of up to 5,000 existing staff could have a serious impact on overall patient care. Doctors also want the Government to drop the 50c prescription charge for medical card holders.
Healy-Rae holds firm on bypass
INDEPENDENT TD Jackie Healy-Rae insisted he is not "holding a gun to anyone's head" in his attempts to secure funding for the Tralee bypass ahead of next month's Budget.
But Mr Healy-Rae also refused to give the embattled coalition a guarantee he will support them if the project does not go ahead.
"I'm not making any threats and it would be wrong to say I'm putting a gun to anyone's head," he said. "All I'm trying to do is negotiate the best deal I can get to make sure the bypass goes ahead."
Although Tralee is not in Mr Healy-Rae's South Kerry constituency, he said the bypass going ahead was crucial for the county's development.
Cowen Aras visit sparks rumour
Taoiseach Brian Cowen's monthly visit to President Mary McAleese was possibly responsible for ill-informed internet rumours last night that a general election was being called.
Yesterday evening, Mr Cowen went to Aras an Uachtarain to discuss affairs of state with the President. The Taoiseach meets with the President every month.