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Daniel McConnell: The Government is dismantling Ireland, bit by bit

Maintaining a commitment to not cut pay for state employees, who are overpaid by and large, at a time of national bankruptcy is lunacy.

But to maintain such a commitment at a time when a range of cuts are now being considered to services to the elderly, to the sick, to school children and to those living in rural Ireland is scandalous.

It is also outrageous that the Government is willing to dismantle the very fabric of Irish society, when it continues to insist Croke Park must be honoured, bank bondholders have to be paid and it refuses to tell our European partners that we cannot pay our debts.

As Independent TD Stephen Donnelly said, a government of this size should bring out the best of both coalition partners, but so far it has brought out the worst.

Rather than seek to protect the most vulnerable, the most needy in Ireland, the Government seems willing to sacrifice all these, and to be the good boys in the EU class.

Without doubt, there are many good proposals in the document prepared by Brendan Howlin's Public Expenditure department and they deserve support.

It is hard to argue with the proposed abolition or mergers of so many useless and expensive quangos. It is also hard to argue with sensible measures like rolling up the TV licence into a household charge, reintroducing third-level fees, axing the body that translates documents into Irish or privatising Dublin Bus.

But some of the proposals -- such as the plan to end the post-primary school bus scheme, ending free childcare or removing pensioners' free travel -- are a savage attack on civic society. The removal or curtailment of these services is likely to have a detrimental impact of the quality of life of many. What is clear from this report is that the Government is desperate to find the €3.4bn of cuts anywhere it can.

However, if it was being done on a genuinely level playing field, then the plan would deserve support.

Until Croke Park is abandoned, until bondholders are told where to go and until this Government starts putting the needs of taxpayers ahead of banks and bondholders, such cuts must be put on hold.

Sunday Independent