More Budget protests planned

Protests are to take place tomorrow outside the constituency offices of Government ministers over botched Budget measures.

Sinn Féin, which is organising the demos, called on local communities to join their campaign to reverse cost-cutting proposals hitting pensioners, students and low-income families.

The party said it will back next week’s Labour Party Dáil motion calling on the Government to reverse its decision to increase the pupil-teacher ratio in primary and secondary schools.

Sinn Féin MEP Mary Lou McDonald said that the Government has lost the trust and confidence of the electorate.

“The Budget was a complete mess and is now unravelling before the Coalition’s eyes.

“The 30,000 people who protested outside the Dáil this week is only the tip of the iceberg. There is no support for the savage cuts which they are trying to force through.”

Taoiseach Brian Cowen admitted yesterday that the botched Budget measure on medical cards affected his authority but added that revised proposals showed responsive leadership.

The coalition was forced into an embarrassing U-turn on its controversial plan to remove automatic healthcare from people over the age of 70.

Under revised proposals, pensioners with an income above €36,500 a year and couples with earnings of €73,000 will not now be entitled to medical cards.

Opposition parties have called for clarification from the Government on whether the income limits will be indexed each year to match cost of living increases.

Former Fianna Fáil TD Joe Behan quit his party over the issue and Independent Finian McGrath also withdrew his support from the coalition.

Ms McDonald said the coalition’s Budget picked on the easiest targets in society – pensioners, children and working families.

“The senior citizens showed that people power works. Now we need to keep up the pressure and fight the many other savage cuts.

“I want to invite people the length and breadth of Ireland to join with us in our protests outside ministers’ constituency offices and get these unjust budget cuts reversed.”

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