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BUDGET 2011

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Saturday, December 4, 2010

THE PEOPLE’S BUDGET


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THE PEOPLE’S BUDGET

PERSONAL IMPACT

Ireland will smile again, given time

Two in three worse off than last year A

LMOST two out of three people (62%) say they are worse off now than this time last year. Pay adjustments are also a stark reality for many with just over one in four saying somebody in their household has had their working hours cut while more than a half have had a pay cut recently. More than a third said somebody in their household has had a pay freeze recently. Two thirds of those surveyed believe they will be worse off this time next year, a historic high. The figure is higher among females with 70% saying they will be worse off compared with 66% of males. Almost a quarter (24%) of those aged between 18 and 24 believe they will be better off in a year’s time compared with 3% of those aged over 65. Half of people surveyed believe the recession will last more than five years with just 5% of people thinking the downturn will be over in the next two years. Just over one in five (22%) people believed that things in Ireland are generally going in the right direction. This is a large increase from the 10% in January 2009 but is well below the 46% that thought so in 1995.

NIAMH HENNESSY Managing director of financial advice firm, CredyCare.ie, Frank Conway said: “Citizens will undoubtedly feel worse off. The confusion over the last 12 months alone, and particularly over the last six weeks has created a climate of uncertainty for a lot of people. The arrival of the IMF served to copper-fasten peoples fears that the situation was grim. “Not alone are people concerned about their jobs and their ability to earn money, some are also in fear of the money they have actually earned.” Meanwhile almost two thirds of people surveyed think Ireland is a good place to live. However young people are more dissatisfied with the country than those in retirement age with 42% of 18 to 24-year-olds thinking Ireland is not a good place to live compared with 26% of those aged over 65. Almost half of the females surveyed said they are the chief income earners in their household and one in five people

2010

2009

‘96

‘97

‘98

‘00

‘02

‘08

Jan

26

27

24

34

24

27

11

Apr Sep Mar Sep Nov 5

6

7

10

7

29

34

33

32

30

Better off

Same

54

56

55

55

60

46

43

surveyed described themselves as a housewife. Entrepreneurship is more prevalent among males with 17% saying they are self-employed compared with 7% of females. More males are unemployed than females at 16% compared with 8% of women. In the survey 7% of people described themselves as students while 15% said they are retired. Figures for the 12 months to April 2010 show about 65,300 people leaving Ireland over the last year — about half of whom were Irish citizens — the highest rate since 1989. Immigration dropped from 57,300 between April 2008 and April 2009, to 30,800 over the following 12 months. Experts said that, unlike periods of mass emigration in the 1950s and 1980s, those leaving Ireland now are slightly older, vastly better qualified and bound for jobs in IT, law and the financial sector — not on construction sites. In the past, teenagers with few skills “were going to join the bottom of someone else’s labour hierarchy,” said E u n a n O ’ H a l p i n , a p ro f e s s o r o f contemporary Irish history at Dublin’s Trinity College.

THE survey results in this publication are derived from the Irish Examiner/Millward Brown Lansdowne Poll, conducted among a sample of 1,000 adults representative of the 3.4 million adults aged 18 and over, interviewed over the telephone throughout the Republic. Interviews were carried out between Tuesday 23 and Friday 26 November 2010. The poll was conducted in accordance with the guidelines set by ESOMAR and AIMRO (European and Irish Market and Opinion Research governing bodies).

The system we have in place failed, now it’s time to adjust, move on, writes Niamh Hennessy

S ‘20% had

T

HE struggle to pay off loans and mortgages became too much for more than one in five people over the last 12 months and they were forced to go to their bank to renegotiate. The figure is highest among those aged between 35 and 49 with 29% saying they have taken such action in the last year. In the 18 to 24-year-old category, 15% said they have contacted their bank to work out a new plan. Trust in the banks is low with more than two-in-five people surveyed saying they do not believe their money is safe in Irish banks. A quarter (26%) of those surveyed said they “strongly disagree” with the statement their money is secure in Irish banks. This rises to 30% in Munster. 17% “strongly believe” their money is safe. Men are far more trusting of the banks than women with 36% of males strongly agreeing their money is safe compared with 26% of females. Trust is lowest among those aged between 25 and 34 with almost half thinking their

Increasing belief that the recession is here to stay for some time 2-3 years March ’10

Worse off

20

Net difference +6

15

21

11

16

Dot com bubble/ 9/11

+12

+3

+23

+8

27

46

Credit crunch

0

-35

66

Global crisis

-61

Note: Prior to November 2010, this question was asked of adults aged 15+

2

59

-53

57

62

Bankinjg crisis

IMF

-53 -47

-55

60

Source: MillwardBrown

Sept ’10

20% 52%

15% 1-2 years

6% Less 1 year

2-3 years

Over 3 years

1-2 years

Less 1 year

Less 1 year

64%

4% 5%

Don’t know

Over 3 years

12%

Nov ’10

6% 1.6%

6%

76%

Don’t know

5% Don’t know

1-2 years

19%

9%

2-3 years

Over 3 years

25% say over 5 years

Note: Prior to November 2010, this question was asked of adults aged 15+

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40% say over 5 years

50% say over 5 years Source: MillwardBrown

to adapt mortgages’ forced to do so than in the working class, unemployed category. T here are over 40,000 residential mortgages 90 days or more in arrears. Chief executive of the Irish Brokers Association Ciaran Phelan said: “While the findings reinforce the sad fact that people are struggling with mortgage repayments one positive that can be taken from the results is people are communicating with their lenders more than ever. In the past there may have been a tendency not to discuss their money problems with their bank and simply hope that they go away. Communication is absolutely vital for those struggling with payments.” While there is a lingering distrust of the banks, despite the bailout aided by the European Union, there is strong desire not to meet demands from Brussels-based politicians to raise corporation tax. Most people think Ireland should keep its controversial 12.5% rate. Two thirds agree it should remain in place with more males (70%) than females (66%) thinking it is important it stays. Professionals are the group that care most that the rate remains, with 78% saying it should not be changed under any circumstances. Over two in five doubt the security of It is also more of an issue for those the banks. Broad agreement in keeping aged between 35 and 49 with 71% corporation tax lower however believing the rate must stay in I believe that 12.5% corporation tax place no matter what. T his my savings are should not be increased secure in Irish banks under any circumstances compares with 60% of those aged Don’t Don’t know Agree know between 18 and 24. strongly Neither Disagree 5% 4% agree or strongly Taoiseach Brian Cowen said 17% disagree 13% Agree recently that the EU/International slightly Monetary Fund (IMF) support 23% Disagree 5% 14% 57% programme will not involve any slightly 11% change to Ireland’s corporate tax Agree slightly 26% rate. 16% 10% H o w e v e r, m e m b e r s o f t h e Agree Neither strongly Disagree Disagree European Parliament have begun agree or slightly strongly disagree an angry protest campaign against Source: MillwardBrown the retention of the 12.5% rate.

money is not safe in Irish banks. Munster bank customers are also the least convinced with half saying they think their money is unsafe sitting in the bank, compared with 39% in Dublin. The Government has gone to great lengths over the last few months to reassure Irish people their deposits are safe. Under the Deposit Guarantee Scheme (DGS), deposits of up to F100,000 are guaranteed. The DGS covers AIB, Bank of Ireland, ICS Building Society, EBS Building Society, Anglo Irish, Irish Nationwide Building Society and Irish Life and Permanent. It also covers credit unions and Ulster Bank. This guarantee has no expiry date. Most deposits are also covered by another guarantee called the Eligible Liabilities Guarantee Scheme which is being constantly extended by the Government. This guarantees deposits of more than F100,000. Meanwhile, on the question about contacting the bank about loans and mortgages much more professionals were

SATURDAY | DECEMBER 4 | 2010

O we partied. While the going was good we splashed out on houses, bought brand new cars, turned our nose up at Aldi and flocked to New York on shopping sprees. And then came the turn, when it all came crashing down and people had to stop and think. Would next month’s pay be enough to cover that big mortgage and the Superquinn shopping bill. What about that two week break booked with the travel agent or would there be enough to eat out at the weekend. Consumers were lured into the belief that getting on the property ladder meant that you had made it. Parents encouraged their kids to buy a house, developers went crazy working through the night to build housing estates and banks couldn’t get rid of money faster. “Don’t have a deposit? Not to worry. We can give you a 100% mortgage”. Oh no, we say now. Suddenly, as young couples scrambled to get set up in their new home things started to turn sour. The neighbourhood has been transformed into a ghost estate, the house is worth less than the massive mortgage, their pay has been cut and taxes have gone up. Ireland’s obsession with property is a major part of the reason the country has found itself in the position it is in today. Some people will say that it is the homeowner’s own fault for scrambling to get a mortgage in the first place; others will say it is the bank’s fault for giving them the money. Wherever the blame lies, there’s one thing for sure: our love affair with property is well and truly over. Never has a break-up been more bitter. While the banks are on life-support it is estimated that around 70,000 people are struggling to repay their mortgages. M a n y o f t h e s e h o m e o w n e r s a re struggling with pay-cuts, job losses, tax increases and higher monthly bills. Life will never be the same again for homeowners, who once sat in their neatly decorated living rooms and smiled as their property increased in value by the day. They now ask when the end will come to the outflow of equity from the once valuable home. A positive kickback to the downturn has been a renewed confidence among consumers. They may not have the confidence to spend their cash, but they certainly have the confidence to seek value. And there’s no shortage of that. It seems odd now if a restaurant does not offer an early bird menu or a clothes shop does not have a sale section. Aldi

and Lidl have shot to stardom quicker than an X-Factor finalist; their fruit and vegetables suddenly “the best around”. Consumers are learning to do things for themselves. Travel agents have been one casualty of this, as holidaymakers realised they could get the same break for a much cheaper price on-line. Hotels are almost at a stage where

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Ireland’s obsession with property is a major part of why the country is in the position it is in today they are paying people to stay in them, while Ryanair is rubbing its hands with glee as travellers go in search of lower fares. Even Irish Rail are offering free fares on their Dublin to Galway route. People have learnt to ask for things, which has led to rents coming down. Shopping around is no longer time consuming. If one insurance company is offering a certain price, it’s OK to ring two others and strike a deal. Pubs are even getting in on the act, offering free food and discounted drinks. This is the Ireland of today. It is being said we were too greedy when the good times rolled and perhaps we were, but we have been forced to grow up. We are working our way through this awful fog that has descended upon our little island, but no matter how hard things may seem, with some adjustment and by talking, we can come out the other end. Banks say they want to talk, consumers must get the best price they can. If this disaster has taught us anything, it has taught us that we must not be afraid. Money is now very valuable and we need to think carefully about how we spend it. The lights may be very dim right now but they haven’t gone out just yet. Ireland still has a lot to offer but of course people are angry, of course they feel hurt and of course they are finding it hard to make ends meet. But the system we have in place in Ireland didn’t work, it failed and now it’s time to adjust, move on and, although days of constant partying are over, the country will smile again, but it will take time.

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THE PEOPLE’S BUDGET

THE CUTS

Child benefit the fair target CONOR RYAN

R

EDUCING child benefit for high income families is by far the most popular cut, if people had a say in how the Government can squeeze F6 billion from the economy next year. An overwhelming 90% included it in their top two choices for reducing the deficit, if the philosophy of fairness was guiding the upcoming budget. Increasing college fees, a measure already agreed in the Government’s Four Year Plan, is among the least favoured routes. Instead, the introduction of a property tax was picked ahead of attacks on students or pensioners. Given five specific options, the suggestion of taxing or means testing child benefit for high income earners was the optimum cutback among those polled. This was strongly agreed among all sectors of society, but some were keener than others. A larger proportion of women believed returning to the children’s allowance for high earners would be a better way for Finance Minister Brian Lenihan to find money — 76% of women thought this was the fairest cut, compared with 65% of men. Men were slightly more inclined to nominate this as the second best and selected a new property tax as their first. Fifteen per cent of men thought the charge on people’s houses was the most tolerable in contrast to 8% of women. The property tax was still a distant second behind means testing or taxing child benefit. Altogether seven out of 10 people polled said it was a fairer choice above introducing a tax on homes or reducing the pension. This was from a survey sample where there were signs of a core family structure — 68% of people were either married, cohabiting, widowed or separated. Six out of 10 lived in a home with more than just a couple in the family. Unsurprisingly the most well off were the least supportive of changing the child benefit entitlement — 67% chose it as the most acceptable cut compared to 71% of the poorest demographic. The proposal to lower the old age pension was backed by just 3% of people as t h e i r f i r s t ch o i c e. T h i s i n d i c at e d pensioners had broad support across society because just 15% of those questioned were retired. Almost two thirds were under the age of 50. The option to entertain a drop in the pension only figured as the third preference among respondents. When pressed to declare their next most acceptable option 43% of people said that reducing the payment to retirees was a better route than lumping additional charges on college students. Much of the potential revolt within Government has centred on the option of reducing the state pension, a proposal blocked by Fianna Fáil backbenchers and the Green Party.

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Audrey Walsh: People are going to Canada mostly. Picture: Dan Linehan

A VERY DIFFERENT FUTURE FOR US

CHILD BENEFIT

86%

listed reducing child benefit in their top two choices for a fair way to tackle the budget deficit.

PROPERTY TAX

50%

put the introduction of a property tax in their top two choices for a fair way to tackle the budget deficit.

STATE PENSION

10%

suggested a cut to the old age pension in their top two choices for a fair way to tackle the budget deficit.

COLLEGE FEES

18%

offered up an increase in college fees in their top two choices for a fair way to tackle the budget deficit.

Majority favour spending cuts T

HE people who will be hurt by the impending four years of devastating budgets are far more pragmatic than the politicians charged with making decisions on their behalf. The majority believe the Government needs to cut spending and the first port of call is the policy of paying full child benefit to high income earners. Even those who will be affected most by the budgetary decisions accept what should be done, even if they will suffer. Fifty-four percent of the most well off believe cutting spending is the best way to meet budget targets. This is an identical figure to those in the lowest social category who have the most to lose by a programme which favours savings over taxes. The people are also resigned to the fact that whatever claims the

Gover nment makes, about having control of budgetary policy, the big decisions are out of its hands. Six out of 10 think Ireland cannot make financial decisions for itself anymore and 67% of that section strongly believe this to be the case. However, in order to meet the demands of the IMF and the EU the public feel cutbacks should play a bigger part than taxes. In total 58% indicated Finance Minister Brian Lenihan should reduce spending. A further 24% thought that a mixture of tax increases and spending cuts would be preferable. Just 14% felt an emphasis on extra taxes was the appropriate path to F6bn in savings in 2011. Support for this option fell outside of Dublin. There was an age difference. Young

SATURDAY | DECEMBER 4 | 2010

people, under the age of 25, were the least open to new taxes. This cohort earn less and are unlikely to be in secure employment. Pensioners flagged their desire to raise revenues through taxation instead of cutting more. And, of those older than 25, between one-quarter and one-third of those polled wanted both taxes and cuts. People are also unlikely to be fooled by pre-election promises which are too far fetched.This was showcased in other questions which revealed 81% of people believe the Croke Park pay deal with public service workers cannot survive the effort to find F15bn by 2014. Meanwhile the majority do not think either Fine Gael or the Labour Party’s economic policies would improve the situation.

THE F2,000 student charge being imposed on third level undergraduates is a massive worry for arts student Audrey Walsh. The 19-year-old from Dunnamaggin, Co Kilkenny is in her second year of studying English and politics at University College Cork. Because she does not qualify for a grant, she is liable for the full charge, which has been F1,500 for the past two years. The four-year National Recovery Plan published 10 days ago said the newly-named “student contribution charge” will rise by F500 next autumn and continue to increase through to 2014. Audrey comes from a oneincome family and her brother and sister will finish their second level education in two and three years’ time. “The year before I came to UCC the charge was F900 but now it’s going to be F2,000 and going up again, where does it stop?” Audrey asked. “It’s a strain on my parents. Every time we hear about an increase, I worry about being able to finish my degree. I’m also worried about whether my brother and sister will be able to go to college”. Audrey hopes to do a masters degree in journalism after graduating — but that or the hope of work feel slim to her now. “I’ve been trying so hard to get a job, I’m sending out CVs since June, but people aren’t even getting back to me,” she said. “For some people the F2,000 might be ‘only an extra F500’, but it’s a lot when you’re expected to pay it in full with no work. “Everyone is leaving, people I know are going to Canada mostly, including people with masters degrees,” she said. Things haven’t reached that stage for Audrey but she is pessimistic about her generation’s future. “We were raised during the Celtic Tiger and told we could have any job we wanted. But now we’re in college, it seems so bleak.”

Students protest over palns to hike college registration fees.

Picture: Photocall Ireland

Elephant in the room

T

HE question of who should pay for third level education has been an elephant in the room of politics for most of a decade — but never so much as it is in our current economic doldrums. For a system that our political leaders wish to accommodate almost three-in-four school leavers, our higher education colleges are vastly underfunded. With cuts to their non-pay budget of 5% already pencilled in for 2011 and more likely after Tuesday’s budget, the questions of who should pay, in what proportion, and what quality of education they should expect have never been so pertinent. The responses around this issue in the Irish Examiner/Millward Brown Lansdowne national opinion poll make clear there is very little support for any increase in college registration fees. Only 4% of participants consider it the fairest of a range of options which is fewer than those who would rather see a property tax introduced (11%) or the minimum wage being cut (7%), and barely more than the 3% who would opt for cuts to old age pensions, with the strongest opposition to raising fees in 18 to 24-year-olds. However, in the same week that our poll was car ried out, Education Minister Mary Coughlan revealed the current student services charge of F1,500 will go up to F2,000 next autumn, followed by further rises in the following three years. (It was less than F400 a decade ago and F800 in 2007). No Irish government will relish the idea of pushing up costs of third level, but any future taoiseach or education minister realistic about having a smart economy needs to bite this bullet quickly.

SATURDAY | DECEMBER 4 | 2010

NIALL MURRAY The long-overdue report of the strategy group chaired by economist Colin Hunt, setting out the shape of our higher education system for the next 20 years, is expected to recommend a contribution to the cost of third level degrees by students themselves after they graduate and begin earning. This is considered a fair system by proponents of such a loans system — including Ms Coughlan’s predecessor Batt O’Keeffe as being fair — as it takes account of the higher earnings likely to be secured by college graduates. On the other hand, student representatives and other groups claim any system other than free third level education does not account for the higher rate of tax paid on those increased incomes. Both sides make valid arguments but nobody can argue that the current system is the most equitable. Nor can anyone deny that rising numbers of students are dropping out or not going to college in the first place for financial reasons. The 70,000-plus (almost half) of third level students who get State financial support include a small proportion for whom the registration fee is paid but who do not receive a maintenance grant. But for those whose families earn just more than the qualifying incomes, an annual cost of F2,000 and more will surely be a deterrent, particularly when students struggle to find part-time jobs. Whoever has the reins of power next year must tackle the entire issue

head-on. But with Fine Gael proposing a graduate tax system, under which third level graduates would pay an additional contribution similar to PRSI, and the Labour Party firmly opposed to any form of tuition fees, it could be years or even decades before this question is resolved. As long as it is left in limbo, however, so too may be the futures of a rising proportion of able students for whom higher education will be an aspiration rather than a reality. Equally as importantly, the quality of education on offer to those who pay for it in one way or another will continue to

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Whoever has the reins of power next year must tackle the issue head-on

decrease. College bosses have admitted this is already happening and this must be addressed by long-needed reforms of academics’ roles being discussed under the Croke Park agreement. But even with that, there will be an annual shortfall of hundreds of million euro that will leave Ireland lagging behind other countries for whom a knowledge economy may be more of a reality than our ambitions. Somebody will have to pay and it has to start happening soon, but no longer at the expense of those who have the ability — but not the cash — to go to college.

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THE PEOPLE’S BUDGET

WHAT WOULD YOU CUT?

EVERYONE has an opinion on what should be cut in Tuesday’s budget. But what would you do if you were Minister for Finance? We took to the streets to find out.

Valerie Raggett, Ballyvolane, Cork

Denis O’Sullivan, Clonmel

Nicholas Alexander, Ennis

Tina O’Dwyer, Cork

Jimmy Power, Carrick-on-Suir

Ruth Kelleher, Clonmel

Gavin Nagle, Togher, Cork city

Rita McInerney, Ennis

Michael Nagle, Cork

Eamonn Ralph, Clonmel

“The ministers’ pay and perks. Having a car each is a total disgrace.”

“Ministerial salaries. I’m not talking 10%, I would put ministers on four times the average industrial wage and TDs on twice it.”

“There should be a straight line of cuts across the board.”

“I would get rid of the Government jet and their huge wages.”

“Cut state cars. It’s not as if they’re going to be assassinated. Although, you never know!”

“I’d take a big cut myself. What really angers me about it is politicians go off to these hotels and places and book rooms and big dinners. ”

“I would nationalise the natural gas off Corrib, then there would be no need for cuts.”

“I would like to see the Government cut PRSI to employers for new employees as a way of encouraging businesses to recruit new staff.”

“Cut government wages.”

“Cut from the top down — the ones that can pay more should be but that’s not happening. The people that created this mess, they should pay.”

Fiona Maher, Clonmel

Gerry O’Brien, Clare

Sheila Lynch, Cork

Jody O’Connor Kilfenora

Allen Flynn Ennis

Veronica O’Driscoll, Cork

Ruth Dahinn, Clonmel

Aileen O’Sullivan, Killarney

Tara Doyle, Ballybricken, Waterford

Margaret Kennedy, Clonmel

“Get rid of all the quangos — not people like teachers and guards. Cut the salaries of people on over a hundred grand. Hugely, by about 50%.”

“The cuts must start with politicians. They can’t preach to us about cuts without taking cuts themselves.”

“The Taoiseach’s wages. It is a bit unfair that the minimum wage and social welfare is being cut without a word about himself.”

“Cut TDs’ pay and expenses. Their attitude that they are above it all is really draining the spirit of the country.”

“Disband the Joint Labour Committee, which is unnecessary when we are being already subjected to the national minimum wage legislation.”

“I would take a little across the board. When people feel they are the only ones it causes anger.”

“Brian Cowen gets paid more than Barack Obama and it’s not fair. The politicians are paid too much and I think they should start there.”

“I live on a F196 per week disability allowance and would plead with the Government not impose cuts in that area. I also need a carer. ”

“Do a Robin Hood: rob from the rich and pay the poor. I’d cut their wages in the Government — they don’t seem to be the ones to be cut so far.”

“I’d start at the top and cut some of those TDs and their salaries. I certainly wouldn’t cut the old age pension or the children’s allowance.”

— Compiled by Donal Hickey, Kerrie Kennedy, Conor Kane and Gordon Deegan Photographs by Pat Good, Des Barry, Eamon Ward and Don MacMonagle

Tina Mulhearn, Clonmel

Donal O’Reilly, Killarney

Frances Lynch, Cork City

Jim Deegan, Clonmel

Mary Kelly, Ennis

Kerrel Clarke, Waterford

Sean Prendergast, Clonmel

Frank Doran, Killarney

Brian Gould, Cork

Enya Houlihan, Clonmel

Brian Markham, Ennis

Emma Corry, Clonmel

“The quangos, then we’d be all sorted. But we should be smart, make cuts but not just for the sake of it. Cuts that will have a long-term benefit.”

“There should be a 7.5% cut in salaries and welfare payments. Channel the money essential public services such as health and education.”

“I would get rid of the ministerial salaries and some seats in the Dáil.”

“Those that are earning above F50,000, it doesn’t matter whether they have big families or small families, cut them. Even the pensioners.”

“Cut child benefit for people on high incomes. Also bring in the valuations in relation to the property tax straight away.”

“The ministers themselves should be cut. One way to do it is to get rid of their chauffeurs and their luxuries. It’s only fair. And don’t cut child benefit.”

“Get rid of Bertie’s and all the state cars and all the fellas that have them. They never worked a day in their lives. Get rid of the gravy train.”

“Wages should be cut. Wages are far too high given our current situation. It’s ridiculous to be paying rates set at the height of the boom.”

“Ministerial salaries should be cut by half at least and the Senate should be abolished. Also, do we really need the 150 quangos?”

“I’d cut out all the expenses and all the state cars. There’s no need for them. If we can live off the minimum wage, why can’t they?”

“The cuts have to be come from the top down. Cut the number of politicians and semi-state bodies that do very little.”

“Their wages — the politicians. If they had to live on our wages what would they be like?”

Antoinette Hahessy, Clonmel

Ciarán O’Flaharta Lissycasey

Karen Brosnan, Killarney

Catherine Murphy, Tipperary

Tim Tierney, Cork

Michael Burke, Ennis

Jason Roche, Waterford

John Naughton, Millstreet, Co Cork

Denise Kavanagh, Waterford

Damien Nolan, Waterford

Garry Colton, Co Meath

Dennis Cadogan, Inniscarra, Cork

“I reckon if they took a little bit off everyone in the country we’d be fine. I’m a lone parent, if they take it off me, I hope they keep it even.”

“Social welfare should be cut to give people an incentive to go back to work rather than stay on the dole. The cut should not be too harsh.”

“The first thing I’d do would be to reduce our politicians’ huge salaries and expenses.I’d also cut out the State cars for ministers.

“The F2,000 college registration fee is going to be very severe. I’ve two people in college and we’ll have to pay F4,000 just to register for college.”

“I would half the salaries in the Dáil.”

“They have to start at the top. People have to work a lot of harder for what they receive.”

“Michael Collins would turn in his grave if he was alive. They’re after selling us out. Not one of them better knock on the door if they go canvassing.”

“Ministers and politicians should be the first to take cuts. Cuts would not be as severe on them. People living on far less are being hit much harder.”

“Don’t bring up the college fees. We’re the ones that don’t have money. The difference between paying for one or two will be huge.”

“Politicians’ wages — surely they would have to be cut. They’re so out of touch with people now.”

“Maybe Government wages. It’s a hard job to do. We all have gripes about it but what are they supposed to do? We have to cut something.”

“TD’s salaries. I don’t agree with social welfare cuts.”

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SATURDAY | DECEMBER 4 | 2010

SATURDAY | DECEMBER 4 | 2010

CONTINUED ON P14 >>

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THE PEOPLE’S BUDGET BELGIUM EC’s verdict: “Gradu in an uncertain environment” Economic growth ........................2010: 2% 2011: 1.8% Unemployment rate ...................2010: 8.6% 2011: 8.8% General Government balance...2010: -4.8% 2011: -4.6% Overall Government debt..........2010: 98.6% 2011: 100.5%

IRELAND EC’s verdict: “Painful but necessary adjustment to facilitate gradual recovery” Economic growth ........................2010: -0.2% 2011: 0.9% Unemployment rate ...................2010: 13.7% 2011: 13.5% General Government balance ..2010: -32.3% 2011: -10.3% Overall Government debt ........2010: 97.4% 2011: 107%

BULGARIA EC’s verdict: “Growth drivers reverse but external imbalances keep unwinding” Economic growth.........................2010: -0.1% 2011: 2.6% Unemployment rate ...................2010: 9.8% 2011: 9.1% General Government balance ..2010: -3.8% 2011: -2.9% Overall Government debt ........2010: 18.2% 2011: 20.2%

GREECE EC’s verdict: “Rebalancing growth amidst ongoing fiscal consolidation” Economic growth ........................2010: -4.2% 2011: -3% Unemployment rate ...................2010: 12.5% 2011: 15% General Government balance ..2010: -9.6% 2011: -7.4% Overall Government debt as ...2010: 140.2% 2011: 150.2%

THE CZECH REPUBLIC EC’s verdict: “Gradual recovery alongside consolidation effort” Economic growth ........................2010: 2.4% 2011: 2.3% Unemployment rate ...................2010: 7.3% 2011: 7% General Government balance ..2010: -5.2% 2011: -4.6% Overall Government debt ........2010: 40% 2011: 43.1%

SPAIN EC’s verdict: “Prospects for a slow recovery while external imbalances recede” Economic growth ........................2010: -0.2% 2011: 0.7% Unemployment rate ...................2010: 20.1% 2011: 20.2% General Government balance ..2010: -9.3% 2011: -6.4% Overall Government debt ........2010: 64.4% 2011: 69.7%

DENMARK EC’s verdict: “Domestic demand drives the recovery” Economic growth ........................2010: 2.3% 2011: 1.9% Unemployment rate ...................2010: 6.9% 2011: 6.3% General Government balance...2010: -5.1% 2011: -4.3% Overall Government debt ........2010: 44.9% 2011: 47.5%

FRANCE EC’s verdict: “Consolidation to start in earnest” Economic growth ........................2010: 1.6% 2011: 1.6% Unemployment rate ...................2010: 9.6% 2011: 9.5% General Government balance ..2010: -7.7% 2011: -6.3% Overall Government debt ........2010: 83% 2011: 86.8%

GERMANY EC’s verdict: “Rebalancing under way as the upswing keeps momentum” Economic growth ........................2010: 3.7% 2011: 2.2% Unemployment rate ...................2010: 7.3% 2011: 6.7% General Government balance...2010: -3.7% 2011: -2.7% Overall Government debt ........2010: 75.7% 2011: 75.9%

ITALY EC’s verdict: “Back to moderate growth” Economic growth ........................2010: 1.1% 2011: 1.1% Unemployment rate ...................2010: 8.4% 2011: 8.3% General Government balance ..2010: -5% 2011: -4.3% Overall Government debt ........2010: 118.9% 2011: 120.2%

ESTONIA EC’s verdict: “Post-crisis acceleration of growth” Economic growth ........................2010: 2.4% 2011: 4.4% Unemployment rate ...................2010: 17.5% 2011: 15.1% General Government balance ..2010: -1% 2011: -1.9% Overall Government debt ........2010: 8% 2011: 9.5%

CYPRUS: EC’s verdict: “Economic recovery constrained by domestic and external imbalances” Economic growth ........................2010: 0.5% 2011: 1.5% Unemployment rate ...................2010: 6.8% 2011: 6.6% General Government balance ..2010: -5.9% 2011: -5.7% Overall Government debt ........2010: 62.2% 2011: 65.2%

GREAT RECESSION:

HOW WE COMPARE

SLOVAKIA: EC’s verdict: “An externally-driven recovery” Economic growth ........................2010: 4.1% 2011: 3% Unemployment rate ...................2010: 14.5% 2011: 14.2% General Government balance ..2010: -8.2% 2011: -5.3% Overall Government debt ........2010: 42.1% 2011: 45.1%

FINLAND: EC’s verdict: “Strong domestic demand boosting recovery” Economic growth ........................2010: 2.9% 2011: 2.9% Unemployment rate ...................2010: 8.3% 2011: 7.8% General Government balance ..2010: -3.1% 2011: -1.6% Overall Government debt ........2010: 49% 2011: 51.1%

SWEDEN: EC’s verdict: “Broad-based recovery helps to bring public finances back to surplus” Economic growth ........................2010: 4.8% 2011: 3.3% Unemployment rate ...................2010: 8.3% 2011: 8% General Government balance ..2010: -0.9% 2011: -0.1% Overall Government debt ........2010: 39.9% 2011: 38.9%

LATVIA EC’s verdict: “Export driven recovery gains momentum” Economic growth ........................2010: -0.4% 2011: 3.3% Unemployment rate ...................2010: 19.3% 2011: 17.7% General Government balance ..2010: -7.7% 2011: -7.9% Overall Government debt ........2010: 45.7% 2011: 51.9%

AUSTRIA EC’s verdict: “Steady recovery facilitating fiscal consolidation” Economic growth ........................2010: 2% 2011: 1.7% Unemployment rate ...................2010: 4.4% 2011: 4.2% General Government balance ..2010: -4.3% 2011: -3.6% Overall Government debt ........2010: 70.4% 2011: 72%

LITHUANIA EC’s verdict: “Recovery gathers momentum and becomes broad based” Economic growth ........................2010: 0.4% 2011: 2.8% Unemployment rate ...................2010: 17.8% 2011: 16.9% General Government balance ..2010: -8.4% 2011: -7% Overall Government debt ........2010: 37.4% 2011: 42.8%

POLAND EC’s verdict: “Restrained rebound turns into solid, domestic-demand driven recovery” Economic growth ........................2010: 3.5% 2011: 3.9% Unemployment rate ...................2010: 9.5% 2011: 9.2% General Government balance ..2010: -7.9% 2011: -6.6% Overall Government debt ........2010: 55.5% 2011: 57.2%

LUXEMBOURG EC’s verdict: “Strong rebound but future prospects remain exceptionally uncertain” Economic growth ........................2010: 3.2% 2011: 2.8% Unemployment rate ...................2010: 5.5% 2011: 5.6% General Government balance ..2010: -1.8% 2011: -1.3% Overall Government debt ........2010: 18.2% 2011: 19.6%

PORTUGAL EC’s verdict: “Fiscal consolidation and private sector deleveraging” Economic growth ........................2010: 1.3% 2011: -1% Unemployment rate ...................2010: 10.5% 2011: 11.1% General Government balance ..2010: -7.3% 2011: -4.9% Overall Government debt ........2010: 82.8% 2011: 88.8%

HUNGARY EC’s verdict: “Recovery firming up, yet fiscal challenges remain” Economic growth ........................2010: 1.1 2011: 2.8% Unemployment rate ...................2010: 11.1% 2011: 11% General Government balance ..2010: -3.8% 2011: -4.7% Overall Government debt ........2010: 78.5% 2011: 80.1%

MALTA EC’s verdict: “A stronger than expected recovery” Economic growth ........................2010: 3.1% 2011: 2% Unemployment rate ...................2010: 6.6% 2011: 6.6% General Government balance ..2010: -4.2% 2011: -3% Overall Government debt ........2010: 70.4% 2011: 70.8%

THE NETHERLANDS EC’s verdict: “A slow-paced recovery sets in” Economic growth ........................2010: 1.7% 2011: 1.5% Unemployment rate ...................2010: 4.5% 2011: 4.4% General Government balance ..2010: -5.8% 2011: -3.9% Overall Government debt ........2010: 64.8% 2011: 66.6%

ROMANIA EC’s verdict: “Economy not out of the woods yet” Economic growth ........................2010: -1.9% 2011: 1.5% Unemployment rate ...................2010: 7.5% 2011: 7.4% General Government balance ..2010: -7.3% 2011: -4.9% Overall Government debt ........2010: 30.4% 2011: 33.4%

SLOVENIA EC’s verdict: “An export-driven recovery held back by low investment” Economic growth ........................2010: 1.1 2011: 1.9% Unemployment rate ...................2010: 7.2% 2011: 7.2% General Government balance ..2010: -5.8% 2011: -5.3% Overall Government debt ........2010: 40.7% 2011: 44.8%

THE UK EC’s verdict: “External demand and private investment to support recovery” Economic growth ........................2010: 1.8% 2011: 2.2% Unemployment rate ...................2010: 7.8% 2011: 7.9% General Government balance ..2010: -10.5% 2011: -8.6% Overall Government debt ........2010: 77.8% 2011: 83.5% Irish Examiner Graphics

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SATURDAY | DECEMBER 4 | 2010

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THE PEOPLE’S BUDGET

ON POLITICS

Majority say down with the upper house

We have been servile for far, far too long H

OW long does it take for a slave nation to cast off its unconscious love of chains? Why is it that after near-on a century of ‘independence’ we find ourselves governed by authoritarian incompetents, men and women whose first and last instinct is to sequester power for themselves and their cronies, at whatever cost to the public good? What is wrong with us, that election after election we hand power to dreary, pedestrian minds, dead souls, the eager and sometimes unconscious lackeys of powerful hidden interests? (Yes, of course there are exceptions, but few enough). Once it was the Catholic Church that exercised undeclared power through its puppets in the Oireachtas, the civil service, the media and business. Now, and for decades past, it is international capital that exercises this mesmeric spell, that runs its sophisticated programmes past the gawping, credulous, servile elite we have permitted to exercise power in our name. The same ECB that browbeat and bullied Brian Lenihan in Brussels last weekend was pouring money into our bandit banking system even after Anglo Irish went down in flames. Now they want their money back, not from the banks who profited but from the taxpayer who did not, and our rulers present this to us as a successful negotiation?

uu

Remind me again who it was invited those of us who warned this madness would end badly to commit suicide?

It would be bad enough if our government understood what and whom it is they are serving; it is beyond endurance that they do not show the slightest signs of understanding what they have permitted. It is simply vile that now, having visited horror on us, most likely from bone-deep incompetence, they insist not just that we must pay but that the poorest among us must pay proportionately the most.

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T

THEO DORGAN I watched Brian Lenihan, barely able to control his aggression, hectoring Miriam O’Callaghan last week in words that will haunt him: “Let’s face it, we all partied.” Ah yes, it’s all our fault. Making life hard for poor Brian with those dole-fuelled safaris in Mozambique, those minimum wage binges in Barbados. Yes of course there is a small element of truth here; many people invested, mainly in property, to an unrealistic extent. But, at whose instigation? Fuelled by cheap money from where? Lulled by promises from whom, by complacent assurances that our economy was the envy of the world? Remind me a g ain who was in government during the so-called boom? Remind me again who it was invited those of us who warned this madness would end badly to commit suicide? There is form here. Denial has long since become the default mode of Irish politics. I recently watched in disbelief as Dessie O’Malley and Willie O’Dea tutted and huffed on television about the disgraceful mistake of having built Southill and Moyross without schools, shops or amenities of any kind. Disgraceful. Shocking. Inhuman. Excuse me? Who were in government when these estates were built? Who has been in Government more or less permanently ever since? Denial is not, let it be said, confined to the present regime. Last year, Enda Kenny’s front bench rose up against him, and he replaced them with what we can only, in charity, call the subs’ bench. It does not seem to have dawned on Mr Kenny that he now asks us to put him into government with his second choice team clustered about his skirts. He doesn’t seem to see this as a problem. I do, just as I consider it a problem that the Labour Party seems to have slimmed down to the Burton & Gilmore double act, with the redoubtable Deputy Rabbitte acting as sweeper. Representative democracy, for all its many faults, is our only realistic choice. All other paths lead to tyranny. The problem, of course, is that historically we have been permitted to vote almost

Demonstrations against cuts and our leadership have gathered strength — our Picture: Provision survey shows 62% want the Seanad abolished. exclusively for candidates pre-selected not for their passion for the common good, not for their competence in a particular area of responsibility, not, god help us, for their animating vision but for their skill at manipulating the mechanisms of the party. And then, once they have been passed through the electoral system, the big beasts of the Party must be found jobs commensurate with their idea of themselves. Consider: the Minister for Finance has no background in business, no training in finance or economics. Ah but, you say, that’s what the Department of Finance is for. Right, that would be the same department that didn’t see the crisis coming, that f ailed to persuade Government of the disaster that would follow from issuing a blank cheque to a renegade banking system. That didn’t even notice the banks had gone rogue.

I

s it credible that nobody in the higher ranks of the Department of Finance took a moment to ask, in the past ten years, if we really proposed to go on building houses, retail parks, office blocks for ever? That nobody in Merrion Street thought this was madness? If they didn’t, they are incompetent. If they did, and failed to convey the seriousness of the coming train wreck to Government, then what are we employing them for? In some ways it’s even more terrifying to imagine these men and women are super-competent but blithely ignored. Having rolled over for the banks, having been hurled off the pitch by a ruthless ECB, the same team are about to deliver a budget. Let me make a prophecy here from my own area of expertise: Investment in the arts will be rolled back on Tuesday. Perhaps you are someone who is not disturbed by this.

SATURDAY | DECEMBER 4 | 2010

Then let me give you the figures. Last year, through the Arts Council, the Government invested F73.4m in artists and arts organisations. F57m of this went back to the exchequer in taxes. This means that the actual investment was F16.4m. How much did this investment generate for the economy? Close on F220m. So naturally it make sense to cut back, yes? After all, who needs that kind of return, eh? More people work in arts & culture than in the defence forces and the Garda Síochána combined; the economic value of the sector is in excess of F780m. Our Department of Finance and our bewildered Minister, and it pains me to say it, are a law unto themselves. My question, again, is why do we permit this? Why are we happy to let an elite set the ground rules, an elite that decides to pay Jackie Healy Rae more than Norway pays its prime minister? An elite that sees nothing wrong with paying Minister Dermot Ahern an annual pension of F128,000 — and a once-off payment of F150,000 to cushion him against the shock of surrendering his job, 10 times the proposed annual minimum wage before deductions. There are women and men of vision and achievement in all walks of life in Ireland. Some of them, indeed, are already in politics. Can we find a sufficient number to do the state some service? And if these generous souls should volunteer some finite portion of their lives, can we find it in ourselves to grow up at last, to step away from the servilities of party politics, to elect a legislature, gifted and competent, that will dedicate itself to building a just Republic? ■ Theo Dorgan’s most recent books are Greek (Dedalus Press) and Time on the Ocean, A Voyage from Cape Horn to Cape Town (New Island), both published this year.

KEEP THE PRESIDENT THE majority of people do not want the age of austerity to result in the abolition of the presidency. One third of those polled strongly rejected the suggestion that the office held by Mary McAleese was a luxury we could not longer afford. Older people, in particular, showed a fondness for the Áras and those in Dublin shared their strident views — 40% of both categories were adamant the presidency should be funded. The more determined support among older people suggests either a residual affection for previous presidents or a longstanding respect for the office. It will cost F3.4 million to run the president’s establishment this year. The bulk of the money, F1.7m, goes on pay. Another F1m is earmarked for the bonus given to citizens who live to celebrate their 100th birthday.

3% Disagree

Agree slightly

strongly

10%

S

ETTLED couples are the most despondent about the plight of the economy and this depression has stoked a desire for a government of national unity to lead the country. Of those between 35 and 64, 68% wanted a government made up of all parties. This was significantly larger than among younger people and pensioners. As a measure of consistency, two thirds of married and cohabiting people wanted a temporary suspension of party politics

Disagree strongly

80% Neither 1% Don’t Know

3% Don’t Know

15% Disagree slightly

Agree strongly

CONOR RYAN claim their mileage allowance. F i n e G a e l l e a d e r E n d a Ke n n y sug g ested, and it since made it i n t o t h e p a r t y ’s o f f i c i a l p o l i c y documents, that the Seanad should be abolished. The Seanad is, in essence, a lame duck legislature. Eleven of the 60 senators are nominated by the incoming Taoiseach. This was designed to prevent the upper house thwarting Government policy. Numbers can get tight if people resign or die in of fice. But the replacement rules favour the Government and order can be quickly restored. The balance of seats can tilt the other way — if a Gover nment changes without an election (as happened in 1994) — and the Dáil can in theory be in conflict with its next door neighbour. But even then the Seanad cannot defeat legislation, it can only delay it. Twice in the last year it has been defeated on a vote. But, beyond embarrassment for the Government whips, the system continued regardless. It is strapped to archaic structures. For instance, three of the senators are elected for the students and alumni of Trinity College, when the vast majority of third-level classes are excluded. But it would require a referendum to make the 60 senators redundant.

THE overwhelming majority of people believe we have too many politicians. Eight out of 10 people polled strongly back the suggestion that 166 TDs in the Dáil was too much and this needed to be cut. Just 5% agreed in any way with the idea the current quota was suitable. The number of TDs has been wrapped up in wider arguments for Dáil reform and remodelling the entire political system — which has made the job seem a lot harder than it needs be. The main hurdle is that the Constitution sets down the amount of TDs that should be in the Dáil, based on the number of citizens. Each TD should represent between 20,000 and 30,000 people. On the basis of the latest census the current cohort of 166 deputies stand for 25,540 people each. With a considered bit of penmanship the number of Dáil deputies could fall from 166 to 141 without causing any offence to the Constitution. A TD for every 30,000 citizens would cut the number of seats by 25. In 2011 each of these is expected to require F268,000 of state funding for salaries, expenses and secretarial wages. On this basis a cut of 25 seats would save F6.7m every year. Fine Gael want to go further but this would require a referendum.

‘Settled couples most gloomy over crisis’

A national government, involving input from ALL parties, would better serve the interests of the country at this time

166 is too many TDs in our Dáil for a country of our size 2% Disagree slightly

3% Neither

HE Seanad has few friends and the people want it closed down to save money. More than three quarters believe the F25 million-a-year upper house of parliament is excessive in the current economic climate. The perennial Seanad sideshow in political debate has never been resolved. Fine Gael proposed shutting it down in the 1980s but the plan was not backed. And the jaded nature of the arguments is reflected in the fact that apathy towards the Seanad is strongest among those who have been listening to it longest. Those over the age of 35, and particularly in the 50-64 bracket have the most vociferous views on the subject. Between 65% and 70% feel strongly that it should not exist. If the Seanad has allies, and there are not many, they may be among younger single people. While this group largely back the argument to abolish the House they both tend to agree with the proposition rather than declaring strong support. Connaught/Ulster is also far less inclined to want to keep it than the rest of the country — 7% in this region want it kept compared to 17% in Dublin. The Houses of the Oireachtas spends F25m a year running the Seanad and this does not include salaries and secretarial services. Two Dublin-based Fianna Fáil senators have lost the party whip because they used second homes to

80% OF PEOPLE SAY DÁIL IS OVERSTAFFED

8%

Given our current economic situation the Seanad is a luxury we cannot afford Disagree Disagree strongly slightly 7% Neither

42% Agree slightly

11% 21%

Agree slightly

compared to 58% of single people. And the mood was not just a tendency, it was entrenched. Nearly half of the middle-a g ed respondents strongly felt an all-party government would serve Ireland’s best interests at this time. Re s u l t s t h ro u g h o u t t h e I r i s h Examiner/Millward Brown Lansdowne poll reveal this demographic is already the most distressed about the fate of the country and downbeat on its

Agree strongly

SATURDAY | DECEMBER 4 | 2010

5%

4% Don’t Know

Given our current economic situation, the Presidency is a luxury we cannot afford 2% Don’t Know

Disagree strongly

9% 14%

prospects for recovery. Seven out of 10 women want the government of national unity while just 57% of men feel the same way. Almost half of women feel strongly about it. Social class does not have much of a impact on the views towards this sort of political arrangement in the Dáil. The single section with pronounced views are the most well off, 29% of these would prefer the system stay the way it is with one government and one opposition.

33%

62%

26% 11%

Agree strongly

Disagree slightly

16%

12%

Agree strongly

Agree slightly

Neither

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THE PEOPLE’S BUDGET

ON POLITICS

FG dilemma as women fail to support Kenny E

NDA KENNY has a problem with women. He needs their vote but they do not like him. The Fine Gael leader received his most hostile assessment from women who indicated they would be unhappy if he became the next taoiseach. Sixty-one per cent of women would not want to see him as leader and 71% of those strongly disagreed with the notion that he would be good taoiseach. This compared with 52% of men who did not fancy Mr Kenny leading the country. In comparison, Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore got a more positive feedback from voters and there was little difference between the sexes. Glaringly, just 18% of women had an upbeat assessment of Mr Kenny, despite his overt efforts to introduce policies to eliminate discrimination at election time. But this is not his only pitfall. Another concer n is that the fundamental plank of his election agenda has failed to win the trust of the public. Asked if Fine Gael had policies to tackle the current economic crisis, 43% of respondents said no and 56% of these were adamant about their feelings. The primary reason for anxiety within the party is that its breakdown is almost identical to that of the Labour Party. This is despite Fine Gael going to great lengths to publish a series of policy documents to reform the public service, sell off public assets and bring in universal health insurance. There is an age difference between the parties. Fine Gael’s policies curried more favour with those aged over 65. There was a 19% gap between the positive impressions of this demographic and people aged between 35 and 49. In contrast the Labour Party lost among older people and won with the youngest voters. The poll suggests the Fine Gael message has failed to get across or, if it has, people remain unimpressed. There is little gender disparity in this line of questions with men and women having equally dismissive attitudes towards Fine Gael’s economic approach. Although women are still marginally more hostile towards the party in all available options. It appears that the main opposition group has struggled to reach beyond its traditional base. The proportion of people who agree that Fine Gael’s plans are enough to deal with the debacle is 24%. This is broadly in line with its core support base and there is little residual appreciation from other parties. This is unwelcome news for its chances of pulling transfers across the country,

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which will be vital if it is to stave off challenges from the Labour Party and independent candidates down the ballot paper. This is a national dilemma. At the time of last summer’s heave against the leader it was thought Mr Kenny represented the rural lobby against the Dublin rebels. However, the polls reveal he is consistently unpopular regardless of where in the country people are rating him. While opinions are slightly more favourable in Connaught/Ulster (51% think he would be a bad Taoiseach compared to 57% in Dublin and 61% in Munster) there is a determined cohort who are turned off by the likely leader of the next Government. However, the chasm in the impressions of female voters is perhaps the biggest problem for Mr Kenny, who cannot afford to alienate such a large section of the electorate.

23

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17

D Kn on ow ’t

D Sli isa gh gr tly ee % D St isa ro gr ng ee ly %

N % eith er

28

7

Fine Gael and Labour together will provide a stable government

14

Lessons for FG ■ Almost three-quarters of people believe the country is headed in the wrong direction, but Fine Gael is not convincing people it represents a constructive change. ■ The figures suggest only its core base thinks the party’s policies will fix the economy and it has not won friends among those from other party persuasions. ■ It has been tip-toeing around the prospect of renegotiating the Croke Park agreement. However, most believe the deal is a goner. ■ Middle class and middle aged voters are in the mood for change. They are the most likely to lean towards Fine Gael, but this has not translated into trust in its method for fixing the economy. ■ 43% of women strongly disagree that Kenny would be positive for country as Government leader. Women are more likely to back all-party government. ■ A sizeable number of people believe the Opposition could form a stable Government. ■ The public is four square behind its proposal to abolish the Seanad and slash TD numbers.

A Sli gre gh e tly %

A St gre ro e ng ly

%

Opinion divided on a potential new government

16

24

13

24

9

Eamon Gilmore would make a good Taoiseach

8

16

24

17

25

8

Fine Gael have the policies to tackle the current economi crisis

7

16

26

19

24

8

Labour have the policies to tackle the current economic crisis

7

13

19

Close allies and bitter rivals F

SATURDAY | DECEMBER 4 | 2010

38

4

Enda Kenny would make a good Taoiseach

Source: MillwardBrown

INE GAEL and the Labour Party have not convinced people about their economic policies, but there remains little doubt among voters that they can work to g ether to for m a stable government. There is a consistent view that the two opposition parties, who have had differing stances on various policy issues, would form a stable coalition. Those eligible to vote and who are under the age of 25 were the strongest believers in the proposition, ahead of pensioners who would have lived through a number of such coalitions. While the electorate emphatically rejected the two parties’ proposals for a coalition in advance of the 2007 election — the so-called Mullingar Accord — voters seem more willing to trust the pair in 2011. The poll revealed that 43% believed the pair would produce a secure executive. This is sizeable given 30% of those polled were neutral to the idea or did not know. Seventeen per cent of people strongly disagreed with the proposal that the main

18

CONOR RYAN parties in the former Rainbow Coalition would be good together. However, this must be pegged against a range of other opinion polls which place the diehard Fianna Fáil base at between 16% and 25%. Fine Gael and the Labour Party are in the unwelcome situation of being each other’s closest allies and fiercest rivals for control of the next Dáil. If the Labour Party is to make the inroads its poll ratings suggest are possible, it will need to make the breakthrough in many rural constituencies. It will not be good enough to target vulnerable Fianna Fáil backbenchers. It must stop Fine Gael attracting the angry protest vote. And the age profile of angry voters revealed in this poll suggests they are more likely to be in Fine Gael’s target market. However, neither par ty can risk

attacking the other overtly, because it risks exposing problems which would play into Fianna Fáil’s campaign. The parties must also work together in the Dáil in a bid to maintain pressure on the Coalition in its final days in office. The two opposition groups have already taken different paths on the rescue of the banks. Labour initially blocked the guarantee of September 2008 and favoured temporary full nationalisation. These are technical differences which will pale beside the tangible public attitude to Fianna Fáil’s banking policies. However, the biggest difference is in the prospective partners’ attitude is their stance on the Four Year Plan. The Labour Party does not support the front-loading of the pain, it believes F15 billion worth of cuts is unnecessary and feels that growth will return faster than the Government has predicted. In contrast, Fine Gael has accepted the F15bn target and the F6bn target for 2011. This poll suggests the public believe the problems will not block the brokering of a post-election deal.

PUBLIC PAY DEAL SLATED CLAIMS that the Croke Park deal will still be in place to protect public service workers has been dismissed by the vast majority of people.They believe whoever forms the next government will have to tell those employed by the state that their pay will be cut again. The Irish Examiner/Millward Brown Lansdowne national opinion poll showed 81% of those surveyed thought the notion of the partnership deal maintaining jobs and was unrealistic. Just 13% felt it was liable to remain intact for the lifetime of the Four Year Plan, which was unveiled in the midst of polling last week. The dismissive attitude towards the deal was strongest among richer people where just under nine out of 10 reckoned the agreement would have to be revisited.

SATURDAY | DECEMBER 4 | 2010

Labour’s policies not a distraction T

HE Labour Party has been derided for failing to produce viable economic policies, but voters do not appear to care. There is little between the party and Fine Gael when voters are asked which policies would work to pull Ireland out of its current mess. However, rather than suggesting a wave of support for the stance the Labour Party has taken, the poll indicates voters are just as dismissive of both sets of policies from the prospective coalition partners. Just 23% of those surveyed think the Labour Party has the right plan for the economy, 1% below Fine Gael. For both parties there was a large group who could not make their mind up on either approach. For Eamon Gilmore’s Labour Party, the poll revealed 43% of people do not believe its policies can effectively deal with the ongoing recession. Those aged 18-25 are most likely to agree with its approach (37%) and it loses among the 50-64-year-old bracket where less than one in five have faith in its financial strategy. And rather than being ignorant of the policies the results suggest the electorate has dif ferent views about what is important but is willing to back Mr Gilmore regardless. The Labour Party opposes cuts to child benefit, but 70% of those polled believe it is the fairest way to raise revenue. Similarly Mr Gilmore has said he rejects the introduction of a property tax on residential homes, but this is the next favoured option among the people if cuts have to be made. Meanwhile 81% of people do not think it is realistic to achieve the savings targeted by 2014 without at least renegotiating the Croke Park Agreement on pay in the public service. However, this does not matter when it comes to the face of the Labour Party’s election charge. The poll sheds light on just how well Mr Gilmore has managed to connect with the electorate since he took over from the unpopular Pat Rabbitte following the 2007 General Election. A solid foundation of 14% of people strongly agree with the idea he would make a good taoiseach. This is even more impressive because it is above the 10% of first preference votes Labour got in 2007. Mr Gilmore just needs to address the problem of getting the right candidates in non-traditional constituencies who can act as a lightening rod for those inclined to like him. Tellingly, in Donegal south west last week Cllr Frank McBrearty did not get 14% of the vote to mirror this poll. So it has not found the formula for fully

Lessons for Labour ■ The public is more open to certain cuts than the Labour Party’s hardline stance of social welfare measures suggests, particularly its refusal to entertain taxing or means testing child benefit. ■ The party is out of step with the majority of people if it believes the Croke Park Agreement can remain intact for four years. ■ People like the prospect of Eamon Gilmore as taoiseach, but they do not believe Labour has the policies to solve economic crisis. ■ For a third of people the jury is still out on Eamon Gilmore, 9% do not know if he would make a good taoiseach and 24% were on the fence. ■ Munster is more of a problem than the Labour Party’s recent strategy suggests. Its national plan has focused on midlands. ■ Its opposition to the plan to cut the minimum wage is popular among people. ■ Eamon Gilmore has his biggest following among younger people. But it is middle aged voters where the disaffection is strongest and worry greatest.

exploiting its promise. The Gilmore team will be particularly pleased with the consistency of his personal support regardless of gender, age group or social class. Older voters, especially the retired, have a better impression of Mr Gilmore, and he gets more favourable responses from people in Dublin and Leinster than in Munster and Connaught Ulster. A slight concern will be raised because the negative impressions of the party’s economic polices are marginally more pronounced in the west and south where Labour is hoping to make its inroads in the election. Similar to the ratings for Fine Gael leader, Enda Kenny, there are many who have not made up their mind on the TD elected from Dún Laoghaire. A quarter of people took a non-committal stance on his prospects as taoiseach and 9% do not know.

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User:jaycarcioneDate:03/12/2010Time:16:35:13Edition:04/12/2010Supp1XS0412People'sBudgetPage:14Color:

http://budget.irishexaminer.com/

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THE PEOPLE’S BUDGET

Rudolf Lrngen, Waterford, originally Germany

WHAT WOULD YOU CUT?

Imelda Cormican, Clonakilty, Cork

Christy Sheehan, Killarney

Patricia Power, Carrick-on-Suir

John Dwane, Limerick

Caroline Shine, Killarney

Elma Beirne, Waterford

Sally-Ann Murphy, Carrick-on-Suir

Andrew Regan, Ennis

Evan Jenkins, Waterford

Georgina Geasely, Cork

Kathleen Cronin, Kilbrean, Killarney

“The whole government should go. I don’t mind the bailout, that’s okay.”

“Not social welfare or pension anyway. Their [ the government’s] own wages, I think.”

“I’d start at the top by cutting the salaries of the taoiseach and ministers.”

“I wouldn’t be cutting much. Try to stop people emigrating and keep them in this country with jobs.”

“There is only place to start and that is at the top, at higher paid public servants.”

“The people who are worst off should be left alone as they are finding it hard enough to survive.”

“Don’t put up the student fees. They’re meant to be going up to F2,000.”

“Politicians’ wages, they don’t deserve it. Pensioners should be left alone.”

“Cuts must start with politicians, judges and gardaí.”

“I would cut the dole off people who haven’t worked a day. Don’t cut the minimum wage.”

“The number of TDs. Minimum wage cuts are unfair, why should we pay for their mistakes?”

“It will be very unjust if the Government comes down hard on people like old age pensioners”

Molly Carew, Waterford

Brian O’Shea, Killarney

Barbara Doyle, Waterford

Fiona Deacon, Wexford

Ann Marie Cummane, Clarecastle

Jenny Catt, Mullinavat, Co Kilkenny

Roberto Taddei, Killarney

Michelle O’Riordan, Cork

Breda Prendergast, Clonmel

Joan Barrett, Ennis

Dermot O’Donoghue, Killarney

“Cut from the top down — government cars and the rest. Old age pensions shouldn’t be touched.”

“The Government should cut the banks loose and let the senior bondholders suffer. I think that’d be to the country’s benefit.”

“The ministers’ wages, cut them tomorrow. But we’re working and in college so I suppose we’re going to be hit.”

“The politicians’ wages. Definitely not A&E services anyway. I understand the need to increase college fees.”

“Child benefit should be cut for the likes of solicitors and doctors. They are only banking it.”

“Anglo-Irish Bank, could it not have been closed two years ago? I’m in the [Fianna Fáil] cumann and I’m getting out of it.”

“They must surely be able to find more room for cuts without taking anything from old age pensioners.”

“I would cut pensions for a while. Not social welfare though, too many people are unemployed.”

“Stop children’s allowance leaving the country. People are collecting it while they’re out of the country.”

“The salaries of all of the top executives should be cut, along with their large pensions.”

David Jones, Clonmel, originally Wales

Ann White, Clonmel

Pat A Nolan, Farranree, Cork

Kathleen O’Leary, Killarney

Helen Kearns, Clonmel

Niall Hewitt, Ennis

Richard Quirke, Clonmel

Christine Moriarty, Killarney

Nicholas Kennedy, Clonmel

Willie Doyle, Waterford

Mark Cosgrave, Limerick

Helen O’Brien, Clonmel

Pauline Whelan, Barefield

“If I was minister for finance I’d be telling everyone else not to accept the budget! Throw the whole lot of them out.

“Theiown allowances. I wouldn’t touch the pension anyway.”

“There’s still a lot of waste of public money and there must be ways of making savings without affecting ordinary people.”

“I’d cut politicians’ pay and they shouldn’t have any chauffeur-driven cars. They should be driving to their own meetings.

“There has to be cut on all of the Government waste. I’m self-employed and we are entitled to very little.”

“Tax the people with a lot of cash. No excuses for people living abroad in exile — tax them as well.”

“Pensioners I’ve spoken with feel very strongly that it’s the well-off people should be taking the cuts.”

“Cut down the amount of TDs, there’s too many. I have a feeling that 15 to 20 TDs would be quite sufficient.”

“They’re doing nothing for us only filling their own pockets. You could halve their [politicians’] wages.”

“TDs’ wages.”

“Abolish the senate. They’re of no value in this climate. We could remove at least half of the TDs as well.”

“Start with politicians’ salaries. In comparison to other countries, there are paid way too high.”

Josephine Geasley, Leitrim Street, Cork

Niamh Doyle, Waterford

Joe Forte, Ennis

John Buggy, Kilkenny

Ann Bailey, Douglas, Cork

Colm Murphy, Carrick-on-Suir

Helen Talty, Quilty

Ann-Marie Coady, Waterford

Linda Varian, Cork City

John Robertson, Ennis

Molly Fitzgerald, Waterford

Jo Tierney, Ennis

“Not health or social welfare anyway.”

“Government wages and there are too many politicians. Everything seems to be a waste at the moment.”

“I’d like pensions and wages of TDs cut. None of this getting a pension at 55.”

“Where do you start? Ministerial wages and things like that. I’d increase the corporation tax to 15% or 16%.

“There are counties in Europe paying more tax than we do— we are going to have to do the same.”

“TDs wages — no surprise there. We don’t need 166 TDs, I’d seriously consider cutting it down to 100.”

“We need to cut the number of politicians. We don’t need that many. I would cut back on the rent allowance available.”

“The ministers’ wages. I’d also cut number of TDs. I’d halve them. What good are they if they’re doing this to the country?”

“Cut the number of politicians. Not pension or social welfare — that is hitting the lowest paid.”

“Cuts should be made in the civil service, where there is overlapping of work.”

“I’d cut all the politicians’ wages first and let it dribble its way down. It’s ridiculous the money they’re on.”

“I would not allowances for the elderly, but I would cut on politicians’ pay.”

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SATURDAY | DECEMBER 4 | 2010

SATURDAY | DECEMBER 4 | 2010

“Cut children’s allowance for anyone on over F100,000. I wouldn’t cut minimum wage.”

“In times of recession, there should not be VAT, or additional taxes on foodstuffs.”

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User:jaycarcioneDate:03/12/2010Time:16:35:31Edition:04/12/2010Supp1XS0412People'sBudgetPage:16Color:

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WHERE OUR MONEY GOES

WHAT WE WILL SPEND

68bn

WHAT WE NEED TO SAVE

6bn

Social Protection

Dole, state pensions, child benefit and support payments

12.92bn

Health & Children

Running hospitals, paying health workers and the HSE

11.96bn

Education

All schools and universities as well as FÁS

Debt Servicing Environment & Local Gov Transport

The cost of repaying a national debt expected to top €200bn

Local authorities, housing, water, waste services and councils The bulk of this money has been spent on roads and rail

8.28bn 5.1bn 2.65bn 2.31bn

Justice

This is the cost of prison, policing and the courts

2.27bn

Enterprise

Grants to companies, attracting business and developing employment

1.49bn

Support payments to farmers and food programmes

1.38bn

Finance

Tied up in this is the cost of maintaining most public buildings

1.26bn

Contribution to EU Fund

This year the bill for Europe rose to help with the Greek bailout

Agriculture

Houses of the Oireachtas................................................................................1.2 Oireachtas billion Defence ................................................................................................................. 0.90 billion Foreign Affairs.................................................................................................... 0.71 billion Tourism, Culture and Sport ...........................................................................0.5 billion Communications & Energy......................................................................... 0.27 billion Taoiseach’s Department............................................................................... 0.18 billion Payments to political parties...................................................................... 0.01 billion

1.2bn

The People's Budget  

The People's Budget, supplement

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