Michael O’Reilly: On December 5th, the Government is set to introduce its second austerity budget – and the sixth austerity budget since the onset of the crisis. €3.5 billion more will be sucked out of the economy, on top of the €25 billion already withdrawn since the end of 2008. Once again, all the signs are that low and middle income groups will bear the brunt of increased taxation and reduced expenditure. And that means that domestic demand will continue its downward spiral – putting more businesses under pressure and throwing more people onto the dole queues.
Budgets are about political choices. In a democracy, political choices are dictated by public opinion – and public opinion needs to be mobilised and vocalised. That is why the Dublin Council of Trade Unions, together with other civil society groups, is asking people to come out on Saturday November 24th and issue a simple demand: No more cuts in 2013.
Today marks the start of a 30-day countdown to the march. During this countdown, we will be publishing ’30 reasons to march’ – one each day until November 24th. There are, of course, many more and we are inviting individuals and groups to visit our Facebook page and leave their own ‘reasons to march’.
Communities up and down the country see the economic and social consequences of current economic policy every day. They know that austerity is killing the patient – and that more austerity will not produce a cure.
Domestic demand has collapsed. Five businesses closed down each day in 2011 – and this year’s figures are likely to be worse. 300,000 are unemployed, and many more are underemployed. Over 1.8 million people are left with less than €100 at the end of each month after paying essential bills. One in ten of us is living in food poverty. One million of our fellow citizens are living in deprivation as measured by the CSO – including over 335,000 children.
And these figures would probably be even starker were it not for emigration: between April 2011 and April 2012 alone, a total of 46,500 Irish people left the country.