Wednesday 16 October 2019

Letters to the Editor: 'No-deal Brexit Budget is a sham that won’t protect poor'

'All this election talk will not put food on the table and is taking politics in the same direction as post-truth Britain.' Photo: AFP/Getty Images
'All this election talk will not put food on the table and is taking politics in the same direction as post-truth Britain.' Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Tomorrow we will be hearing any details of the Brexit Budget that have not already leaked. This Budget has very little creative leeway, we are told, because so much has been already committed. So Paschal Donohoe is tasked with delivering yesterday’s dinner of a budget in an election run-up with a no-deal Brexit tag added in.

This is the political landscape, but the reality on the ground remains for many to do with the price of bread and milk, of fuel costs, of surviving another winter without lonely nights on a hospital trolley, of putting food on the table and of providing some sort of Christmas cheer.

In 2016, Fine Gael committed to raising social welfare payments by €25, a €25-a-week pension increase by 2021, which equates to an equivalent €5 a week per year, and this is the fourth year. A no-deal Brexit was not on the cards when this commitment was made and so any reasonable person might assume that €5 raise is the minimum the most vulnerable can expect in this so-called Brexit Budget.

However, it appears the Government plans to break this promise and is even shameless enough to use Brexit as an excuse. The no-deal Brexit budget proposed by Minister Donohoe is therefore a sham as it does less than nothing to protect those who will be hit by price increases of foods and essentials. The recent accusation of Fianna Fáil over-promising is a brazen attempt to mask the Fine Gael Government’s own under-delivery. All this election talk will not put food on the table and is taking politics in the same direction as post-truth Britain.

Studies by the Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice reveal the real rate of inflation for people on benefits is 3pc-4pc, as items like lighting, heating, food etc, form a bigger component of their weekly expenditure.

Many have a variety of additional costs. But Fine Gael just doesn’t care to get this because it is so far removed from the conversations on doorways and in the street.

For Fine Gael, struggling to make ends meet for basic commodities is outside its experience, and hence there are no moves planned in a so-called Brexit Budget to help the most vulnerable. Refusal to consider a supplementary budget as a safety net reveals a hardening of the heart typical of government under Fine Gael.

We are back to the Minister for Hardship mentality, it seems. Meanwhile, the Cabinet enjoys pay restoration itself. What a farce.

How could any TD getting a €1,700 a year increase face going to the doors and telling a carer they were not entitled to a €195 one?

Almost every cent of the €5 increase will go straight back into the local economy. I am appealing to readers to contact their TDs on this, we are not a heartless people and so why allow our Government to be?

Caitríona McClean
Lucan, Dublin

Ghosts of the Great Famine could yet haunt Johnson

Boris Johnson views the great trade deal he is going to do with Trump’s America as his trump card (excuse the pun) in his Brexit dealings. This, unfortunately for the UK, is not a foregone conclusion and owes its roots in many ways to the great Irish Famine.

The Great Famine was a period of mass starvation, death and emigration between 1845 to 1849. There was a failure of the potato crop and the cause was laid squarely at the feet of our English masters at the time. The population then was eight million and even now, 170 years later, it still hasn’t recovered.

A million-plus people died and a million emigrated in those coffin ships to a new life in America, and thus began our special relationship with the USA. Like the roots of a growing sapling tree, the emigrants spread to every part and into every facet of America and its society.

A trade deal is not the personal gift of an American president but of Congress, and the powerful bipartisan Irish bloc has stated that a US-UK trade deal will not happen if the Good Friday Agreement is put in jeopardy. The ghosts of the great hunger and the humble potato may still have a large part to play in the Brexit end game.

Dr Aidan Hampson
Artane, Dublin

Would other areas extend céad míle fáilte to refugees?

Brendan Butler, of Malahide, Co Dublin, (Letters, October 4) believes the people of Oughterard have irreparably damaged the reputation of Ireland by not welcoming the arrival of 250 refugees (equating to 19pc of its population) to direct provision centres in its town.

Can I assume Mr Butler would happily extend ‘céad míle fáilte’ to 3,600 refugees (equating to 19pc of the population of Malahide) to his leafy suburb? Perhaps Mr Butler’s time would be more constructively spent in seeking to secure accommodation for refugees in Malahide instead of berating a small rural community that does not enjoy the wealth or advantage of his own. I will happily support him in his efforts.

Anna O’Donoghue
Swords, Co Dublin

Irish Independent

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