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First published:Fri, Aug 2, 2013, 01:10
Sir, – The voices of Government backbenchers are rarely heard. In that context The Irish Times has done a service by allowing eight Fine Gael backbenchers to set out their view of budget options (Opinion, July 31st).
What is not clear is where our Fine Gael colleagues want the cuts to fall. The bulk of public spending is on health, education and social protection. Would they cancel the recruitment of gardaí? Would they cut pensions? Would they reduce the number of people on medical cards? Would our Fine Gael colleagues have us sack public servants or cut their pay even further? Don’t they think that public servants have taken enough?
And, would they have us believe that any of the above could be done without adversely affecting patients, school children or pensioners?
In fairness to the Fine Gael TDs, they say that the scope acquired through additional cuts should be used for stimulus. This is a false choice. It ignores the fact that taking more than is needed out of the economy will itself have a deflationary effect. Moreover, the Government is already committed to a capital programme of €10 billion over the next three years. In addition, the €2.25 billion stimulus announced by Brendan Howlin in July 2012 will start to bear fruit next year. More stimulus will be made possible from the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, and proceeds from the sale of non-strategic state assets.
As Labour backbenchers we have signed up to a Programme for Government to save the country from bankruptcy. This programme entails increases in tax and cuts in spending. We signed up to those in order to get our country out of a serious mess – not because we are against spending on public services. Tough decisions have been necessary to get the country to where it now is. Recovery is in sight, though not yet secure. But we are not austerity junkies. We will do as much austerity as is needed to secure the recovery. Not a cent more. – Yours, etc,
DEREK NOLAN TD,
MICHAEL McCARTHY TD, KEVIN HUMPHREYS TD, ARTHUR SPRING TD & JOHN LYONS TD,