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Budget witterings

December 7th, 2010 · 2 Comments · Blogging, Irish Politics, Live Blogging, Newsdump, Recession, Social Policy


The press release issued at 17.00
A national event held in Cork’s Millenium Hall on Saturday has called for a new focus on local economies. This was identified as the key level from which to develop alternatives to current economic policy. Initiatives are now required to maximize the level of food, energy and well-being services generated by local networks.
Claiming our Future in association with PlanBetter organised the event on Saturday.  Two hundred and fifty people participated in this national debate. The debate focused on the need to build an economy that would serve society and the environment.
“The current economic structure is based on false accounting, serving neither the environment nor society. It is built on resource misuse, high levels of unemployment and diminished public services. It is an economy where commitments made to address climate change are reneged on. This is why we need build support for an alternative” said Niall Crowley, one of the Claiming our Future organisers.
Participants identified that the search for economic growth as a resolution to the current crisis will do no more than lead us into the next crisis – the environmental crisis. They emphasised that growth must be robustly regulated to ensure environmental sustainability and to achieve social cohesion.  
There was a strong consensus articulated that change in our approach to development was not possible without political reform. New forms of democracy are needed to enable a wider participation in the decision making that is shaping our future.
“We need alternatives to the current approach to economic policy, and the state has a key role to play in this. It should enhance local economies, further develop the services it provides, and regulate the national economy to stop it damaging the environment and society” said James Nix of PlanBetter.
There was a call from the event to redefine what we mean by prosperity. Prosperity needs to be defined in terms of health, participation, well-being and community – rather than just money and possessions. The meeting concluded that new ways must be found of measuring progress in terms of social inclusion and environmental sustainability that move beyond the current narrow focus of GDP.
Participants called for the values of equality, environmental sustainability and participation to underpin economic policy. They highlighted the key contribution of civil society organisations to building and demonstrating support for these values.
Claiming our Future is a social movement promoting equality, environmental sustainability and participation. It involves individuals and organizations from the full spectrum of civil society – including community groups, environmental groups and trade unions. It was established in October 2010 at an assembly in the RDS in Dublin. One of the priority policy challenges identified at this event was the need to promote a model of development that would achieve economic security and social and environmental sustainability.



That’s it for today – the final results of deliberations will be available on the Claiming Our Future website next week.



Top ideas from the Ideas Market – each of the 250 participants were given 20 stickers to use to rank their agreement/preference with 10 ideas and also could come up with their own.

1) Establish New Value Base 540 votes

2) Empowering Local Communities 452 votes

3) Steady State Economy 299 votes




Cillian McSweeney from Knocknaheeny Youth Music Initiative writes great music and lyrics.



Knocknaheeny Youth Music Group collaboration with Cork Academy of Music – Assistive technology in action.



Feedback now on results of Ideas Market voting






Big round of applause to the 25 facilitators for their days work today and the 3 consensors.



Cork Academy of Music Performance coming up – this is going to be worthwhile watching!





The gong goes to warn of 5 minutes left of the third debate.



I’ve found the three themes to emerge from the second debate from this morning (I need chocolate – excuse the sluggishness)

‘Growth should be a tool not a target’

‘We need to start measuring the important things – sustainability, health, well-being – and make them grow.’

‘We will only start measuring  the things that really matter after we have transformed our politics. ‘



The vast majority of people have stayed on for the afternoon – always a good sign!

You can see the livestream of the hall here –  and you  will be able to hear the wrap up and feedback from the third debate



The aim of today’s event is to form the basis of discussion  in future local and national Claiming Our Future events and lobbying on policy.

The 5 Values from the first event last year:

  • Equality for all
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Accountability from those in power
  • Participation by people in decision making that impacts on them
  • Solidarity between all sectors of society

The 6 Priorities

  • A sustainable alternative to our boom-and-bust economy
  • A more equal society
  • Change in the way we govern ourselves
  • Decent and sustainable jobs
  • Radical reform of the banking system
  • Reform of our public services


Overheard at another table ‘We are where we are!’  (And it was not said in jest!)




The Ideas Panels from the Ideas Market place can be seen here.   People got very involved – there were people at each idea poster to explain the concepts to participants.  And there was a blank sheet for ideas not already covered.



A speaker from Trocaire is introducing the next session – she makes comparisons with development issues and the issues facing Ireland.

The Third Debate – What needs to be done?

Sharing reactions to the Ideas Market Place.

What can we do? What could I do?



Another document that was sent to participants before the day

Economy, Society and Environment: how do they relate to each other?



Testing …


This liveblog software has a mind of its own.



There’s a row breaking out about Labour in government on the table near me.  Tangent alert tangent alert!



The Ideas Market place is about to start.

All participants are invited to circulate in the hall to assess key ideas set on poster boards for the elements to an alternative system.  They will be asked to rate them as they discuss them.

The Ideas discuss the following

  • Robust Radical Regulation
  • A New Localism in a Golbalised World
  • A Steady State Economy
  • Technological Innovation
  • Basic Income
  • Establishing a New Value Base
  • A Black Board for Other Elements

Participants rate them in order of priority




Back after lunch – great chicken curry.

Mike Allen from the consensor group has fed back themes which emerged from the sessions this morning.



The second debate ends and it’s time for lunch. The themes which emerged from the First Debate.

  1. Prosperity is about more than money, things or consumerism. It’s about personal and communal well-being.
  2. Prosperity means having enough not needing more than enough.
  3. If it’s not sustainable is not prosperity.




Introducing Musinomics!

Claiming Our Future supporter Shaz Oye is releasing a new song “Heaven Can Wait” to aid Concern’s famine relief work in Somalia. As Somalia’s drought worsens the UN says that as many as 750,000 people could die, and so far half of the dead are children.  You can buy a copy of the single for €2 on Concern’s Challenge website

Your €2 will help feed one child for one day. €42 will provide a family with basic food (flour, rice, oil & sugar) for a month. €20 will provide 20 sachets of Plumpy’nut a miracle food, which enables a malnourished child regain health quickly. Over the years I have entertained thousands of people. If just 1000 of you each contributed €2 we could raise €2000 and support nearly 50 families this month.



Head Count now showing 250 people here.



Groups are about to commence discussions on

The Second Debate – Is Economic Growth Required for Prosperity?

  • Do we need economic growth?
  • How does economic growth serve the environment, society and the economy itself?


De Growth? What is that? A new one on me! Tim Jackson video clip is very hard to hear.



The Impossible Hamster



Marie Sherlock introduces 3 video clips to show some ideas before the next debate



Tweets coming in from around the floor

@patrickmboyle Prosperity – having basic needs met, health, shelter, #cofideas

@kencurtin A room full of envionmental activists and we got tea & coffee in polysterine cups #fail #cofideas

@loulouparkinson At the #cofideas in Cork city hall… Tons of interesting ideas and people floating around







Rob the Nation is a band from Ballyhehane/Togher Music Project – supported by Cork VEC



Shortly to arrive on stage to enertain those present – Rob the Nation – a band from Ogra Chorcai



Gong sounds to signal the end of the first debate -each table has to identify 3 themes from their discussions.



Claiming Our Future prepared materials for the participants to read before they attended.

The first is What is the Economy?



Buses to the event have come from Mayo, Galway, Limerick. Clare, Waterford, Wexford and Dublin



Discussions begin with introductions and the facilitators talking through

The Ground Rules

All in the group including Facilitations have responsibility to:

  • Ensure all feel comfortable to participate (if they wish)
  • Listen respectfully to different perspectives.
  • Be open to having views challenged and discussed
  • Ensure no one/two dominate the discussion or impose their views
  • Stay focused on the topic of the session




The First Debate – What do we mean by Prosperity?

  • What vision for social progress drives us individually and as a society?
  • What do we mean when we say we aspire to objectives like ’prosperity’ ‘development’, ‘well being’ or happiness’?
  • What do we think is wrong with our current economic system?


Another video clip – this time – Tim Jackson, Professor of Sustainable Development in University of Surrey.



James Nix from Plan Better introduces the themes and format for the day.



The video being shown to participants is of Jeremy Irons speaking to An Bord Pleanala hearing against an incinerator development in Cobh (The local community won the battle against the planning application).



Welcome to the Peoples Republic of Cork from the organisers – the event is organised in conjunction with Plan Better.



The day is organised around a number of debates amongst groups of participants (groups of 10 sitting around tables throughout the hall) Decisions are reached and consensors report back to the gathering about their discussions.


21.01 have a virtual panel running on the impact of budget11 on various members of society. Anne is on disability allowance and tells how this budget will effect her.



OPEN an organisation representing lone parents in Ireland has released their response on the effect of #budget11 on lone parents



See the comments for information on other cuts of interest.



I have been asking to get on the FF press list for months – and tonight voila a press release.

One attacking FG on their proposals regarding older people from the Minister for State for Older people – um shouldn’t Minister Brady be press releasing on the fact that FF/GN budget is not affecting older people – or is it effecting older people in other ways and we are not being told?

Fine Gael seeking to punish older homeowners with Budget proposals – Minister of State Brady

Fine Gael are seeking to punish older homeowners in their budget proposals according to Fianna Fáil TD for Kildare North and Minister of State with responsibility for Older People, Áine Brady.

“Fine Gael are seeking to punish older homeowners in their Budget proposals which would see those selling their homes have to pay up to 10% in Capital Gains Tax on the value of the sale.”

“While Fine Gael does specify that those in negative equity would not have to pay, it is evident that those older people in particular who were seeking to downsize the family home to secure their retirement funds would be the hardest hit.”

“It seems really unfair that Fine Gael would target older people in this way.”

“This would not be the only charge that those selling their homes would be subject to. Fine Gael also propose retaining stamp duty, although reducing it to 2% for two years.”

“This would mean older people would be paying on the double if they sold their family home. Fine Gael clearly recognise that ‘older wealthier generation that purchased their home before 2002’ would feel the ‘burden of tax’ more heavily with their plan. Yet, often, many of this generation may be cash poor and the family home is their only asset.”

“Fianna Fáil in Government are determined that the adjustments that need to be made are made as fairly as possible with everyone playing their part.”

“Fianna Fáil’s Budget proposes a new flat rate of 1% on stamp duty up to the value of €1million with 2% applying to amounts over €1 million. This will be applicable to all transactions to or after the 8th of December 2010. However, in the interests of fairness, anyone who has entered a binding contract before the 8th of December and who executes the transfer before the 1st of July 2011 will not lose out.”

“It is evident to me that this across the board application of such a low rate of stamp duty is a much more equitable solution that Fine Gael’s proposal.”

“Our Budget is focussed on jobs, growth and stability and in targeting our adjustments we are determined not to focus on one group in particular but to be as equitable as possible. It is a pity that Fine Gael, in targeting older people and their family homes are not so inclined,” concluded Minister Brady.



Inclusion Ireland press statement – No Croke Park deal for people with disabilities



Government Press office on website streaming Dept of Health press briefing on budget – says that ‘journalists will ask minister about cost savings’ spin spin spin – cuts become cost savings.



No cut to mobility allowance, foster care allowances and rehabilitation training payments according Minister Harney



The response from the Childrens Rights Alliance to the Budget





Denis Naughten from Fine Gael reacts on impact of budget on people with Disabilities



The details of cuts to education – significant cuts to supports for Travellers, introduction of student fees, capping of special needs assistants, educational psychologists, and changes to school transport services and how they are operated. Third Level Students will not qualify for higher amounts of grants unless they are living 45km from home.



Department of Health and Children’s statement on budget and estimates



There are no increases in the A&E charge, the statutory day and inpatient charges, or the monthly threshold for the Drug Payment Scheme.



Minister John Moloney – Minister for State for people with disabilities makes a statement on the budget and impact on people with disabilities.



Those on back to education and VTOS schemes are having their additional payments reduced by from €31 to €20 per week.



Rent Supplement – those in receipt will have to pay more rent – €2 more per week – so that’s a cut of at least €10 per week.




Policy and operational changes are planned that will assist people with disabilities, who choose to work, to do so. As part of a change agenda, the Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) (No 2) Bill provides for a Partial Capacity Scheme which will allow people return to work and retain all or part of their social welfare payment.



Department of Social Protection publish the main changes to Social Welfare payments and schemes



More prisons – Dermot Ahern spins

Ahern Welcomes Continued Investment in Justice Sector

The Minister for Justice and Law Reform, Dermot Ahern T.D., said today that the capital budget provided for his sector will give scope to expand and develop infrastructure and facilities over the coming years.

Minister Ahern said that it was intended to continue investment in the Justice sector which had, in recent years, funded new Courthouses, Garda stations and Prisons infrastructure. In addition, state of the art and leading edge information technology systems have been provided across the various organisations in the sector.

The capital budget of €80 million provided for the Justice Votes in today’s budget is the first tranche of a total capital investment of €330 million in the Justice sector in the period 2011 to 2014.

Minister Ahern said: “Significantly this investment will ensure that progress is continued in relation to the following key projects:

– the provision of additional prison places including the phased development of the new prison campus at Thornton Hall and an extension to the Midlands Prison in Portlaoise

– continued maintenance and upgrade of Garda ICT facilities, including the commencement of the development of a new Major Investigation System for the investigation and detection of serious crimes

– completion of a state of the art laboratory for the State Pathology Service in a joint venture with Dublin City Council

– the development of new juvenile detention facilities at Oberstown

– capital funding will also be provided to the Courts Service and the Property Registration Authority for continued investment in ICT, thus continuing the significant efficiency improvements and range of services provided in recent years.”



1.6 billion cuts to Health and Social Welfare Budgets 2011



Book of estimates published



Budget speech and all related documents now published



New incentives for tenant purchase of local authority homes, no mention made of those who cannot afford to buy a home or the many homeless or indeed the many empty homes throughout the state.



Carers, blind pension, disability allowance all facing €8 cut in benefits.



Public Sector Pensions to be cut by 4% to those earning more than €12,000.

Rules being brought in to stop public servants retiring earlier en masse.



Child benefit rates cut by €10 for 1st and 2nd child, and €20 for 3rd child
Extra 5000 places on a community employment training scheme.

Minister says that the fine details of all social welfare schemes will be published later.



No change to State Pension

Child Benefit reduced by 10 percent per child

More money is being made available to those on fuel allowance – with an additional hard weather payment – a once off of €40 being made this year.



Not a budgetary matter but interesting to see that there were publications last Friday relating to a Value for Money review of services for people with disabilities. The publication includes opinion from people with disabilities with the majority indicating they wanted individual tailoring of services with a range of service providers being available to them. I and others will analyse these further but given that there will be announcements relating to disabilities funding today it is interesting to see these publications out with little or no comment so far.



No Press conference in Brussels from Ecofin and Eurogroup yet.

Taoiseach will make statement at Government Buildings at 6.15pm



RTE are ready to go live once there is any news it seems.



Eurogroup and Ecofin Press Conferences expected at 5pm – can be watched here



Test post 1 in Live Blog


While we think we know the cuts to come because of the leaks and the four year plan there will be many cuts not announced in the budget speech but in documents released shortly afterwards by government departments.

I will be having a look out for these to keep an eye on the seemingly smaller cuts in schemes and benefits which will have a huge impact on those who receive them. While the news will be dominated by the cuts to CEO wages and ministers and TD’s very rarely do we hear much about the cuts to health benefits and increases in charges for prescriptions and health charges.


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