Thursday 27 April 2017

State 'faces civil unrest' as Budget nears

DANIEL McCONNELL Chief Reporter

The Government was warned yesterday that Ireland is on the brink of widespread civil unrest -- "the like of which has not been seen for decades".

Eamon Devoy, general secretary of the Technical Engineering and Electrical Union (TEEU), told a conference in Galway yesterday that the €6bn of cuts in the Budget were "unbearable" to most people.

TEEU delegates voted in favour of launching a campaign of civil disobedience if the Government does not call a general election.

The emergency motion was passed by an overwhelming majority at the biennial conference.

In his address, Mr Devoy also strongly criticised the Government's plan to take €6bn out of the economy in the next Budget.

"When the draconian measures being proposed are heaped on top of the €14.5bn of cuts already implemented in the last three brutal Budgets, life in Ireland will be unbearable," he said.

Separately, two academics from UCC, David Humphries and Steve O'Callaghan of the Accounting, Finance and Information Systems department, also said that any conditions imposed upon us could lead to civil unrest.

"While many of these structural adjustments may indeed be long overdue, it would appear that the Irish citizenry are largely unprepared for their impact -- a rather worrying backdrop to the need to avoid the civil unrest that has plagued other countries that have acceded to external intervention," the academics said.

They said that any IMF/EU bailout meant that the Croke Park deal would be "significantly compromised".

"Public sector pay and entitlement programmes are likely to be a focal point of any adjustment," they said.

They also said that both the IMF and the EU would want to see major changes to public sector pensions, which are likely to feature in the four-year plan, due to be announced early this week.

"Both the IMF and the EU have been particularly ardent in their approach to cutting pension entitlements, something likely to be repeated in Ireland, given our, by international standards, generous pension rates," they said.

They also suggested that Ireland had more to fear from the EU than the IMF.

"Popular consensus would appear to view the IMF as a ruthless cost-cutter with scant regard for social cohesion.

"However, recently the IMF's approach has evolved towards a balance of fiscal consolidation while maintaining basic social protections. The EU, in contrast, has insisted on more severe austerity measures, overriding IMF concerns, likely a matter of significant importance for Ireland."

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