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Few think tax hikes are way to plug deficit

The vast majority of people favour cuts in government spending to reduce the budget deficit, a new nationwide opinion poll has established.

Almost 60 per cent, or two in every three people, believe that the way to cut the deficit is by slashing public spending, rather then raising taxes, according to the Ipsos MRBI nationwide poll carried out for the newly founded 'We the Citizens' organisation (www.wethecitizens.ie).

Launched last week to find a new form of "public decision making", the organisation, headed by Fiach Mac Conghail and funded by philanthropist Chuck Feeney's Atlantic Philanthropies, is now planning 'Citizens' meetings in Kilkenny, Cork, Galway, Dublin, Letterkenny and Athlone during May and June.

The public consultation will culminate in a 'National Citizens Assembly' in Dublin in June which will make specific recommendations for political reform.

As part of the process, the group carried out a nationwide opinion poll on issues affecting voters.

"A sizeable majority of Irish voters, up to 60 per cent, is more in favour of cutting spending than in raising taxes," said David Farrell, professor of Politics in UCD who assessed the results. Over 40 per cent believed it is the only way to reduce the deficit.

Professor Farrell said that younger citizens were more in favour of tax increases, but other age groups, and particularly the over 55's believed that public spending should be reined in.

The opinion poll also found that 32 per cent of those polled believed that political reform was a priority, with just 13 per cent believing it was a luxury "we can live without".

"Reform proposals are not enough . . . successive governments have failed to deliver on their promises," Mr Mac Conghail said.

"This is a cathartic moment which gives Irish people the possibility of helping to renew our country, to redefine the thing that we value about being Irish" he added.