Our 'fair' path to recovery has become an exercise in cruelty

Sir, How many times can we, the citizens, be taken for fools? Apparently, in the eyes of our government, there is no limit to the number. We are now told by Finance Minister Michael Noonan that 85 per cent of the ' heavy lifting ' is done. A definite figure has been put on our recovery; no more turning of corners in a maze. We are on the home straight, with only 15 per cent more to go.

The cost of this heavy lifting has been enormous on many sections of Irish society. The homes we thought we had paid for must be paid for again with a tax on them and the water that we paid for every year with our taxes, has to be paid for twice over. Costs are constantly increasing on workers and pensioners, most of whom are on reduced and frozen incomes. Electricity, fuel, car tax and insurance, refuse charges, drug scheme, health insurance etc all increase yearly. We are all getting poorer year by year. We have won the race to the bottom.

Nurses, after four costly years in college, will now start on €11 a day above the minimum wage, at €22,000 a year and on a two year contract, while your local TD starts on €92,000 a year on a five year contract. Whenever we restart recruiting more gardai, who knows what salary they will begin with; €20,000a year and on a yearly contract maybe? Those on middle and low incomes have been brought to their knees. We started out, five years ago, being told that we would have the cheapest bailout in history and that we would grow our way out of our problems with yearly growth of 4.4 per cent.

Fine Gael and Labour, when in opposition, said you couldn't 'slash and burn' your way out of recession. The pain was going to be shared by all and our 'friends ' in Europe would assist us. It would, however, be fair, yes fair, and we all understood the meaning of this word 'fair'. Isn't that how society works and anarchy is prevented in the civilised world? It would take four years to get the show back up and running. Wear the green shirt and think of Ireland.

We couldn't nationalise the banks five years ago; they needed to remain viable as private entities. We couldn't have a State bank either. What if we had put the €64 billion into our own State bank; it would now be a very strong bank in comparison to what we wound up with. We couldn't let the bad banks go to the wall, the ECB said. That wasn't how the economic system worked. We would have to assist the beleaguered bondholders, otherwise our reputation would suffer. It didn't matter that the debt wasn't ours. Well, we did eventually nationalise the banks, but in the most costly way possible. Now we have have two creaking 'Pillar Banks '.

With our seventh austerity budget to come at the end of this year, and at least number eight to follow, the domestic economy has been inhumanely put down. If we start recovering in the next few years, having had the guts of €30 billion taken out of the economy, we will have achieved an economic miracle.

Few of us believe in those kinds of miracles. Whither fairness now? We have gone to a new level in the last two budgets. Fairness, morality, and basic justice have all bitten the dust; now we have moved on to cruelty.

To take much needed assistance from the old, young children and the infirm is cruel. Money taken in cuts to child benefit, in fuel allowance, electricity allowance and so on is nothing other than an exercise in cruelty to the vulnerable in society.

And the cruelty will continue. What a riveting study subject it will make for future scholars, when they delve into this period of outright oppression of the Irish nation. We could tell the Troika that we are going to give them the odd billion, when we can afford it, and concentrate on helping our domestic economy instead. We are in a very strong position now as the heavy lifting is done. We have about enough tax coming in now, with a bit of tweaking, to run our now less costly State services again, if we spread out our debt payment over 50 years. Why not put it up to the ECB. 'No' is only 'no' if you accept it as 'no'. Sincerely, Gerry Cournane, Tralee.

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