Poor Can’t Pay campaigners appeal for Government to protect vulnerable

CAMPAIGNERS against budget cuts to low-income families held a mock cabinet meeting to appeal directly to government ministers to protect the vulnerable.

The Poor Can’t Pay campaign, whose members include Barnardos, Focus Ireland, SIPTU and the Saint Vincent de Paul (SVP), took a seat around the “Cabinet” table on Molesworth St yesterday as the country was digesting the controversial Commission on Taxation report.

The campaign’s message is that people earning the minimum wage or living on social welfare did not cause Ireland’s economic crisis and should not be forced to pay the price of the recession.

Speaking on behalf of the campaign, John Mark McCafferty of the SVP said the meeting was a direct appeal to the Taoiseach and every government minister to consider the harsh impact cuts will have on thousands of families and single people living on welfare or struggling on low incomes.

“These decisions cannot be taken purely on an economic basis without taking account of the terrible impact some cuts will have on the most vulnerable,” he said.

“Cuts to welfare payments will mean people going without food, heating and essential healthcare. It will be grossly unfair if the most vulnerable are forced to pay the cost of the economic crisis in this way and will have a very negative impact on our society.”

Sharon Kirkpatrick, who also took part, said if there are cuts to welfare payments she would not be able to pay for childcare and would not be able to continue in college.

“I am going to college and bringing up my son and already in debt as we are struggling to get by on lone parent’s allowance and child benefit. If there are cuts I would not be able to continue,” she said.

“The Government encourages people to study to boost their employment chances, but then it makes it impossible for many to do so. If I could get a job tomorrow I would take it right away, but there’s just nothing out there at the moment.”

Organisers of the campaign urged members of the public to add their voice to the Poor Can’t Pay’s new internet campaign at www.thepoorcantpay.ie.

Meanwhile, The Community Platform, representing 28 national networks, warned that cuts were not the solution.

“The real incomes of those relying on social welfare have already been reduced. Any further cuts will have disastrous implications for the most vulnerable and excluded in our society,” said a spokesperson.

“Likewise, people on low incomes are more reliant on public services – put simply, they can’t afford to buy the equivalent in the private market and without those services they have little opportunity to escape poverty.”

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