Letter to the Taoiseach in response to the Budget.
by Padraig McCarthy
To: Taoiseach Brian Cowan, Minister Brian Lenihan
Department of the Taoiseach, Department of Finance
Government Buildings, Upper Merrion Street
Upper Merrion Street, Dublin 2
The quality of a country is not judged by the number of millionaires or of those whose salary is €100,000 or more, but by how those at the bottom are enabled to live with dignity.
I recognise that difficult decisions have to be made, but the decision to hit the poorest cannot be a means towards that. Don’t squeeze those with least. I believe that the people of this country are generous enough to give you the means to avoid taking this disgraceful action. However much the Social Welfare cuts save, they will not be worth it in terms of the human cost. The legislation has been passed, and awaits enactment.
1. I urge you to suspend the implementation of the cuts while other avenues are explored.
2. Your salary, and those of your colleagues, have been reduced, but are still light-years away from what you are about to impose. The government should not impose on citizens something which the members of the government are not themselves prepared to undertake.
Will you request all members of Dáil and Seanad to agree voluntarily to accept just the current average industrial wage for the next four years?
It would be a powerful signal of solidarity with the people.
If you can’t live on that, how can you ask people to live on half of that, on the minimum wage? On one third of that, on €188 per week Social Welfare?
If you were to do this, you would be in a position to invite other well-paid people in the public service to take a similar step, and also the directors of our banks. Invite people in private employment to make their contribution.
3. Set up a fund, ring-fenced to counter-balance the cuts in Social Welfare. Put in a system for people to make contributions. Pay the balance of your own salaries into this. Call it a Voluntary Tax if you wish.
Don’t give away the money to the banks.
You can do it. Think of the impression such a decision would make on the people of Ireland, and perhaps more widely.