The EU Commission, the IMF and the Irish Government continue to insult Ireland's poor and vulnerable people

Posted on Monday, 29 November 2010

The insult to Ireland’s poor and vulnerable people originally perpetrated by EU Commissioner for Economic and Monitory Affairs, Mr Olli Rehn (when he refused to meet representatives of these groups during his recent visit to Ireland) has been repeated and worsened by the terms of the bailout agreement. The bailout programme proposes to target unemployed people while they make no provision for any new jobs that unemployed people could take up to exit unemployment. It is an insult to poor people and unemployed people to blame them for their unemployment.

The terms of the bailout programme have confirmed that the European Commission and the IMF support the Government’s budgetary strategy which will damage the poor, the sick, the vulnerable and the unemployed. It is not acceptable that the IMF claim it is protecting poor people when this is patently not the case.

It is totally unacceptable that the European Commission, the IMF and the Irish Government develop and implement a programme which will see Ireland’s weakest groups take the major part of the ‘hit’ for the reckless actions of greedy bankers, incompetent regulators and an inept government. It is important to note that they are doing this while failing to deal effectively with the underlying problem of the moral hazard where banks are allowed to act recklessly knowing they will always be rescued by the taxpayer.
It is clear that the European Commission, the IMF and the Irish Government, have decided that those who are rich and/or strong will not be asked to make sacrifices while those who are weak and poor will bear the brunt of the Government’s budget adjustments. This can be seen clearly in the proposals to:

  • Reduce welfare rates (which will hit the weakest and poorest as well as increasing poverty);
  • Bring the working poor into the tax net which will deepen their poverty (a quarter of all households at risk of poverty are headed by a person WITH a job);
  • Reduce the funding for programmes providing services to people who are ill, old, caring or have a disability (i.e. Ireland’s most vulnerable people).

Social Justice Ireland fully acknowledges the gravity of the present situation which has been caused by a variety of groups including bankers, regulators and government itself. Very difficult decisions must be made and made quickly if the present decline is to be reversed. It is in the interest of all Irish people that the correct decisions be made now.   However, those decisions must be fair and just. The bailout agreement is n neither fair nor just.