We'll revolt if Budget hits OAPs -- FF TD


THE Budget will not be passed if the Cabinet agrees to cut to the old age pension, a Fianna Fail TD has warned.

Chris Andrews has revealed that a backbench revolt capable of collapsing the Government is on the cards.

Rumours of unhappiness within the Fianna Fail have been circulating Leinster House since the Herald revealed secret proposals to slash the pension by at least €5.

But today Mr Andrews went public to warn that a number of backbenchers will not stand over the targeting of pensioners.

"I think there are very strong feelings among backbenchers. I've rarely seen them as strongly opposed to cutting anything as this particular issue," he said.


"I think if you did a survey of backbenchers and asked 'if the old age pension was cut would the budget pass?' around 85pc of them would say no."

Government Chief Whip John Curran was adamant yesterday that there would be "no more men overboard" as a by-election threatens to reduce the coalition's slender majority to just two.

But the Dublin South East TD said he and several other colleagues would have "real difficulty" supporting a budget with pension cuts.

Former minister Mary O'Rourke previously told the Herald that she believed pensioners on the "lowest rung" need to be protected, while other TDs, including the Taoiseach's constituency colleague Sean Fleming, have opposed pension cuts during FF meetings.

Mr Andrews explained: "What I understand is that if you cut the pension by €5 it would save around €120m. Horse Racing Ireland got over €50m last year.

"It certainly sends out the wrong message. That's not a Fianna Fail I want to be part of, if horses are on a par with pensioners."

Ministers have repeated both publicly and at private Fianna Fail meetings that "everything is on the table" in the run up to the Budget and refuse to rule out pension cuts.

Last year, the Government managed to leave pensioners largely unscathed but with a record €6bn adjustment required, sources say that nobody can escape this year.


Social Protection Minister Eamon O Cuiv has signalled that his department's €21bn is facing a significant reduction.

Speculation is mounting that these cuts could include a flat-rate slice off the pension of between €5 and €9 as well as a possible means test for other benefits.

The Household Benefits Package, which entitles older people to a series of allowances for day-to-day expenses such as electricity, gas and telephone, is under scrutiny.

Any of these moves risks a repeat of the massive demonstrations that followed the medical card fiasco two years ago.

Former Fianna Fail minister Mary O'Rourke has said: "These are people who live at the lowest rung and we have a duty to say that thus far we'll go but we'll stop at that."

And today Mr Andrews went further to say: "I don't think it'll pass. I've told that to ministers Lenihan and O Cuiv.

"I would have difficulty supporting cuts to it [the pension]. In the main they are people who don't have any other way of making any income."