Budget day 2011 saw vicious cuts being imposed on ordinary working people across Ireland to pay the massive costs of the bailout of Ireland’s banking system. A deeply unpopular government, in the service of the richest 1% of the population imposed cuts and tax hikes totalling 6 billion euro, cuts which will be supervised by the ECB and IMF. Around two thousands peopled gathered at at the Dáil that evening with the first protest taking place early that morning, when Gardai hastily tore the slogans off a cherry picker that had been placed outside the Dáil.
The WSM provided live coverage via Twitter of the cuts and the protests as they took place. We took part in the 1% Network protest before marching on the Dail around 6 to join the left bloc.
The problem is capitalism, not just a harsh budget - WSM speech at the Dáil
As part of the budget protests at the Dail Dec 7 2010 Gregor Kerr gave the following speech for the WSM. In it he argues that, while we must fight the budget, we need to look beyond that and clearly say that capitalism as a way of organising society is morally and politically bankrupt.
The 1% get richer while we get poorer - 1% Network speech at the Dáil
As part of the budget protests at the Dáil this evening Andrew Flood has given the following speech for the 1% Network.
20:50 A contingent of the remaining protesters at the Molesworth street gates of the Dail breakaway to march around to the Merrion square entrance where they stage a sit down for a while.
19:45 About 600 extra protestors just arrived on the Right to Work March Audio to follow shortly
19:35 An extra continent of protestors on the Right to Work March expected to arrive at the Dail shortly. It is bitterly cold now.
18:55 From various reports coming in numbers are between 600 - 1000
18:15 500 people marched with the 1% Network to the Dail. Numbers at the Dail have reached a thousand now. Text of speech given by Gregor Kerr on behalf of WSM at 1% Network. http://tinyurl.com/3alvmtn
17:50 Things begining to get going. The pots and pans demonstration has risen to several hundred. Flares set off as demonstraters block Molesworth St and Kildare st. In this audio Shane O Curry describes events as well as the 1% network block gathered at the Wolfe Tone Monument which is now at the preparing to march to the Dail Shane by Anarchist
17:21 Protests against budget due to begin soon. The 1% percent Network is gathering at Wolfe Tone Monument Now. Audio report to follow shortly.
16:47 Noonan is enumerating all the cuts now - invalidity pension, carer's pension, cuts in the child benefit for the third child - he seems to be quite focussed on the third children. Also, it's quite a sight to see the Dáil laughing and joking about this.
16:41 Fine Gael's Michael Noonan now talking about €700 million from sale of state assets like Bord Gáis being paid into the exchequer - looks like the Shock Doctrine is getting a real shot at an Irish fire sale. Everything must go!
16:37 Seems like taking the piss out of Paul Gogarty is a hobby everyone can share - and now he's getting told off by the Ceann Comhairle. Pity I couldn't hear what gems he came out with this time.
16:29 Oh look - "We will defend our 12.5% corporation tax rate." Obviously at the cost of cutting from the least well-off. And he's done. Looks like no-one's clapping outside the Fianna Fáil benches. A lot of shouting and cries of "Get them out." Looks like a good laugh.
16:27 "Common good?" "Sharing the pain fairly?" What world are you living in, Brian? And "no other government could have done better?" I think a class of primary school kids could have done better. Or someone flipping a coin.
16:26 Lenihan is now giving the rhetoric part of the budget full of self praise...
16:24 Lenihan is now arguing that we will get money back from the banks.
16:16 Tax system dramatically changed - same elite still benefit - no change in rates, corporation tax or high rate of tax remain the same.
16.03 Reduction in Taoiseach's pay - he will still earn nearly €4,000 a week
16:00 Vague reference to increasing work schemes - effectively making people do jobs they are trained to do for dole-rate pay. Sounds like a downward spiral in pay.
15:57 Child benefit cut by €10.
15:56 Budget is on-going - dole is cut by 4% with more cuts in the next few years.
15:45 Audio interview with Mark at the pots and pans demonstration.
15:37 The pots and pans protest is currently underway outside the Dáil - around three hundred people kicking up a huge racket with airhorns, pots and pans, and anything that can make a noise.
14:59 Students from schools in Clondalkin have walked out against the budget
11.44 The slogans Gardaí tore off Dáil Cherrypicker read "To the politicians who vote for the budget today, the people will vote you out tomorrow."
09.35 WSM reporter at Dail tweets "Just seen cherrypicker at Dáil. Garda have torn off slogans - what did they say?"
07.55 RTE reporting that a cherry picker has been parked at the Dáil gates covered in slogans and that music is being played from it.
Ordinary people in Ireland no doubt face a crisis. Today sees the delivery of another budget that allegedly makes us “share the pain”. This “sharing of the pain” actually means that ordinary people have taken all the pain for a crisis we clearly had nothing to do with. Hidden in the rhetoric of crisis behind this budget is aspects that will allow some to gain.
What’s in the budget?
- Health cuts
- 5% Cuts in social welfare
- 5% cuts in ordinary public sector workers pensions
- Cuts in child benefit
- Increase in college fees
- Rearranging the taxation system
- Low paid workers who were previously exempt from tax forced to pay tax despite a simultaneous reduction in minimum wage.
- Reducing tax credits.
This budget is clearly going to attack ordinary people. People on minimum wage could face an 11% reduction in pay, new taxes and reduction in child benefit. Social welfare recipients will lose 5% and face possibly other cuts in relation rent relief aswell as the cuts in child benefit.
What is coming
This budget is only the first in four years of attacks on our living standards and services. The government recently published a draft memorandum that will give legal effect to the negotiations between the EU/IMF and Ireland. Essentially, the draft reveals, by quarter of each year, how the government intends to implement an incredibly far-reaching austerity program to help get us back on our feet. Read more at Fianna Fail, EU and IMF protect the most vulnerable?!?
Two weeks ago the government brought out their so-called “Four Year Plan”, dubbed by the tabloids “A war on the poor”. This plan will see budgets like the one served up today (Read more analysis of the four year plan ). Although the government are claiming to be “frontloading the pain” in this budget, this sounds ominously like the promise that last year's budget of 3 billion euro in cuts was going to be the worst.
Although Brian Lenihan will hardly be able to call this budget “a call to patriotic duty” as he did last year, he will no doubt tell us this will help alleviate a crisis. Hidden behind the rhetoric are the real benefactors of the budget. First and foremost, the bondholders who risked and lost will win, while we will continue to foot to pay the bill for their gambling. They are not the only ones.
For years, the employer’s federation IBEC have been calling for a minimum wage reduction. Today’s budget will see that minimum wage reduced by a euro an hour in a cynical use of the recession to get even more money. This reduction in minimum wage, effectively an 11% pay cut for the lowest paid workers, is a direct transferral of wealth from the poorest workers to some of the richest. The highest earners will benefit as well, as it does not in any way attempt to make them pay in a meaningful way.
Fianna Fáil expect that, for this service to the wealthy 1%, they will lost the forthcoming general election. The new government will be able to blame Fianna Fáil and the ECB/IMF for the cuts they are imposing. But there won’t really be much to celebrate if, as seems certain, we end up with a government which might not be called Fianna Fáil but which will be implementing exactly the same ‘screw-the-workers, protect-the-wealthy’ policies. Read more at Opinion Polls suggest Fianna Fail about to be annihilated, But should this worry us?
In all the doom and gloom there has been examples of successful resistance, including the pensioners' opposition to planned cut backs on medical card entitlements. We can defeat the 1%, but only if we organise to fight them. Last week’s massive march by ICTU (Read our report) was followed up with UNITE being the first major union to call for a general strike. After ICTU's failure to deliver on the national strike on March 30th 2009, the success of any major union action will only happen if the grassroots of unions organise for it. Read more about organising for a general strike