on passing by- again
For a long number of years people were able to remember where they were and what they were doing when the news came in that John F Kennedy had been assassinated in Dallas. It was a stomach churning moment of shock, disbelief and fear. Camelot had been attacked and we had no answer.
I have a very strong feeling that in years to come people are going to have the same recollections about the recent budget, the same sense of shock, disbelief and fear.
After months of doom and gloom, months of watching more and more people being put on the dole, months of watching financial markets plunge, people were willing to partake of the budgetary pain if we could see any sign that its provisions would show some way out of the mess. Dozens of lengthy cabinet meetings lulled us into believing the Government was going to seriously tackle our problems and at least give us a road map out of our present troubles. Financial experts and commentators, both national and international, all agreed that Mr. Lenihan had a very fine line to walk. Almost without exception these people said that the budgets revenue raising measures should be one third tax increases and two thirds cost cutting. They pointed out the overly large public service and talked of the negative effects a large increase in taxation would have. It was their considered opinion that large tax hikes would further undermine the public’s confidence and spending, thus undermining the larger economy. They pointed out that no open economy had ever taxed themselves out of a recession but had only further mired themselves in the brown stuff. To further illustrate this they harked back to previous recessions and showed where Government tax policies had kept us in depression longer than was needed. And what of Mr. Lenihan? Yes, he did exactly the opposite.
This, possibly one off, chance to attempt to get the country up and running has been squandered. In all honesty I cannot now see us getting as good a chance again. All the easy options have been taken and the Government has once again shown its fear in grasping the nettle. To say that this budget bodes ill for the future is probably the understatement of the year. Figures released by the Department of Finance are closer to Hans Christian Anderson than they are to any sort of normal reality. Let us not forget that it was these same people who regularly underestimated tax revenues by billions of euro. Are we now to believe that they have suddenly learned to do the sums properly? I don’t think so.
Figures released by these mandarins show that the Government has agreed to curtail spending by 886 million euro. We were told that the government was going to show courage in the way these cuts were implemented, and that their eye was on the future of the country and not the future of the government. Well lads, if this is courage we are obviously reading from different dictionaries.
The plan to stop the extra week’s welfare payment at Christmas, while saving an estimated 156 million euro, is hardly courageous. Reducing the Early Child Care Supplement will undoubtedly save the estimated 100 million but can you really call stealing from babies courageous? As the dole queues lengthen more and more people will be dependent on Welfare and yet the Lads are going to save 50 million by cutting rent supplements. Sure I suppose if the poor unfortunates are not going to pay any tax we may as well put them on to the side of the road. Then again we will have to be careful which roads we put them onto. Make sure it’s one of the roads which will go to rack and ruin as the Government saves another 300 million that was earmarked for road repairs and upgrades. Then again at least we have some idea where exactly these amounts are being taken from. Other amounts are back to the fairytale brigade. The Government hopes to make savings of 150 million from “ Unspecified Payroll Savings”. Where exactly does the unspecified bit come in? As the only people in receipt of Government payroll are the public service does this mean he is going to reduce their wages? Unlikely. What about the savings of 82 million from “general control measures”? I don’t even know what a general control measure is. Are they going to buy cheaper staples and elastic bands? And don’t forget this is all after weeks and weeks of long and high intensity talks.
The solution? At this stage I don’t think anyone really knows but the Government has yet again passed up a golden opportunity to reform the Public Service. How can a Government whose own figures show revenue for the year as thirty four billion euro countenance spending twenty billion of that on Public Service wages and pensions. Why is there such an unwillingness, or fear, of tackling a problem which is adding to our current woes and strangling us financially? Is the Government, and Ministers Cowen and Lenihan in particular, really so afraid of their own employees and their Union cohorts. Can Mr. Cowen, who showed such happiness when he informed us that during his tenure as Minister for Finance he had increased public service numbers by 77,000, not now see how unsustainable the present numbers are.
In 2002 the Report of the Public Service Benchmarking Body was published. This august forum had been put in place because it was widely felt that some grades of public servants were at a serious financial disadvantage in relation to their private sector colleagues, in some cases by as much as fifty per cent. The measures used to calculate this disadvantage, and to award large wage increases, have never been made public. Requests under the Freedom of Information Act have been repeatedly rebuffed and yet the parties to the Report continue to insist that all is above board. The wage increases totaled over one billion euro in the first year and have steadily escalated, and don’t forget this is on top of the normal wage bill.
The situation as it now stands is that on average a public servants wage is thirty per cent more than their private sector colleagues, at least those lucky enough to have a job. The Ministers option is to reduce their wages by up to thirty per cent. As any fair minded person can see this is not really an option, even for people with lifelong security of employment and a guaranteed index linked pension. People have become used to a certain level of spending which is already being eroded by increased public and stealth taxes. If he cannot take back thirty per cent of their wages his only real option is to reduce their numbers. Yes, by thirty per cent.
All for now. Mike Edmonds. April 09.
LJ’s Golf Classic March 14th and 15th.
Big numbers took the opportunity to enjoy a fun day of golf, in great weather, on our own doorstep! Thanks to everyone who supported this fundraising event and helped make it such a success.
Our thanks to:
· Johnny and Mary Murphy for their continued support and generosity in allowing the GS run this event on their farm in Coughlanstown.
· Celine Keneghan and Michael Murphy for the Caravan / generator
· Tommy Deegan and Michael Lawler for enhancing the ‘course design’
· All the lads for constructing the course.- some very interesting holes!
· Dora and her team of ladies who gave of their time with enthusiasm, and, as always, the soup ‘n rolls were delicious!
· Special thanks and well done to all the children who participated, particularly to Kim Kelly, Amy Horan and Lucy Field for helping with the catering.
· And last but not least, Michael Horan, Captain, who co-ordinated everything! A lot of work went into organising this outing, from designing and constructing the course, organising the catering people and facilities, managing the time sheet, competition, raffle, prizes etc. Phew! His phone bill must be massive!! But it has to be said, he did a great job, and is very much appreciated!
Competition Results 14 & 15th March:
Winners Saturday - Jimmy Kelly, Sean Kelly, Gerry Cronin, Tom O’Rourke
Longest Drive: Brendan Daly, Mary Horan. U15 Winners - Mark Nolan, Carol Byrne
Nearest the Pin: Tom O’Rourke
Winners Sunday: Pat Flynn, Eddie Flynn, Joe Mills, John Doyle
Longest Drive: Pat Flynn, Janet Deegan. U15 - Amy Horan, Niall Murphy
Nearest the Pin: Michael Gaynor
Michael Horan, Gavin Daly
Dunmurry Springs 11th April
God is being kind to Michael Horan, the sun came out again and so did the golfers for this outing!! It was a fabulous day for golf. Lot’s of ‘glowing’ happy faces in Paddy’s that evening for the presentation!! Dick Shaw was particularly happy – he scored a HOLE IN ONE at Dunmurray! Overall winner was Seth de Labre, with Tommy Deegan a close second. Congrats to all!
1st Seth de Labre,
2nd Tommy Deegan
Best Gross: Gavin Daly,
3rd Jay Curley
Category 1: Brendan Daly
Category 2: Tommy Daly
Category 3: Michael Murphy
Category 4: John Murphy Jnr
Front 9: Simon Murphy,Back 9: Dick Shaw
2’s club Tommy Daly
Hole in One: Dick Shaw
Maureen Doyle Memorial Cup
FRIDAY 24TH APRIL
AT SOUTH CO GOLF CLUB
The day starts with Refreshments at 2pm at South Co, shot gun start at 3pm. Barbeque in Paddy’s following golf.