Archive for October, 2014


October 28, 2014 3 comments

Update April 23

Burton Says no Restoration of Illness Benefit to Working Lone Parents, Widows, Widowers in Dáil

Reply to Seamus Healy TD

(This benefit is payable to workers generally based on their own PRSI contributions. Though Lone Parents, widows, widowers claim illness benefit based on their own contributions they are not entitled to sickness benefit)

Question No: 40 Ref No: 15855-15

To the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection

To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection if she will restore the entitlement of working widows and working lone parents who are respectively in receipt of a survivors pension or a lone parent allowance to illness benefit; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
– Seamus Healy.

*    For WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 22nd April, 2015.


Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Joan Burton T.D):

The social welfare system is designed to respond to a range of contingencies such as illness, unemployment, old age and widowhood. In Budget 2012 the Government decided, having regard to the fiscal necessity to contain social welfare expenditure and to protect weekly rates of payment, that it was no longer possible to have a social welfare system whereby some people got more than one primary weekly payment.

So, from January 2013, half-rate payments of jobseeker’s benefit, illness benefit and incapacity supplement for those who get widow(er)’s pensions, surviving civil partner’s pensions or one-parent family payment ceased (for new applicants for jobseeker’s benefit, illness benefit and incapacity supplement).  Other concurrent payment entitlements, such as new participants on Community Employment schemes, were also ceased as part of the Budget 2012 measures.

Prior to this, there were a limited number of exceptions in the social insurance system to the general principle of “one person, one payment”.  These exceptions usually applied in the context of short-term benefits.  For instance, recipients of One-Parent Family Payment, Widows and Widowers Pensioners etc. could, until Budget 2012, also receive short-term social insurance benefits, such as Illness Benefit and Jobseeker’s Benefit at half-rate at the same time.

These overlapping payment arrangements were introduced in the early 1950s when the social insurance system was first established – a time when there were only 10 individual social welfare payments – and the social welfare system has been significantly developed since then.

I am satisfied that the general principle of “one person, one payment” serves to maintain the equity of the social welfare system.


April 19

Burton-Lone Parents Demonstration against further cuts due  Shortly 

Dáil Éireann, Monday, April 27 at 1:00pm

April 17

Four Further Questions by Seamus Healy TD on Childcare and 4 further non-answers from Minister Reilly are now carried below the Priority Questions in the post below

April 16 12.00 Noon

REILLY WAFFLES on Child Care Provision

Lone Parents must pay for childcare outside school time after July 2 (Full day care rate of 105 Euro per week)

Government has no funds to increase the capitation fee though the top 10,000 earners have an average income of  595,000 Euro per year each

Dáil Éireann – 15/Apr/2015 Preschool Services—–Read All Reilly’s (non) Answers to Seamus Healy’s Questions by Clicking Above

Child Care Services Provision

 3. Deputy Seamus Healy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if, in view of the fact that, effective from 2 July 2015, single parents of children over seven years of age will be required to participate in activation measures outside the home in order to receive the full jobseeker’s transition payment, he will provide free child care outside school hours and in school holiday periods for the children affected as a matter of urgency; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [14646/15]

Deputy James Reilly:This question relates to the one-parent family payment. As the Deputy knows, this is, in the first instance, a matter for the Department of Social Protection. However, my Department has been working closely with that Department to develop a range of targeted child care support programmes for low-income families, parents returning to the workforce and parents engaging in training and-or employment initiatives. Among these targeted child care support programmes is the after-school childcare programme which provides after-school care for primary school children of eligible parents for a period of 52 weeks. The programme contributes €40 per week for an after-school place or €80 per week in situations where a pick-up service is provided to take the child from school to the child care provider. The programme also provides a full day care rate of €105 per week, for a maximum of ten weeks, to cater for school holiday periods. In all cases, the maximum fee payable by parents is €15 per week per child. The community child care subvention programme and child care education and training support programme also provide a range of child care supports for eligible parents, including after-school care.

These targeted child care support programmes, together with the universal early childhood care and education programme which provides a free preschool year for all children in the age category three years and two months to four years and seven months, represent an overall annual investment of €260 million and support more than 100,000 children each year. This level of investment has been maintained, despite the difficult budgetary position in recent years. To ensure all of the benefits of this and future investment are fully realised, it must be evidence-based and strategically co-ordinated. Accordingly, I have established an interdepartmental group to develop a coherent whole-of-government approach to investment in early years and after-school care and education.

Dáil Éireann – 15/Apr/2015 Child Care Services Provision (Continued)// //

This group is considering the needs of children in their early years as well as the needs of school-going children. The group, which is still in the early stages of its deliberations, will submit its final report to Government in June 2015.

Dáil Éireann – 15/Apr/2015 Child Care Services Provision (Continued)// //

Deputy Seamus Healy: Information on Seamus Healy Zoom on Seamus Healy Question No. 3 relates to the one-parent family payment and the situation after 02 July next when the payment is lost once the youngest child reaches seven years of age. Prior to any such change being introduced, the Government promised that Scandinavian style child care would be available but that has not happened. Single parents will be required to be available for work after 02 July this year, once their youngest child is over seven years of age. Child care services will need to be put in place on a full-time basis, including after-school services. What plans does the Department have to do that?

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly The short answer to the question is that I am awaiting the outcome of the interdepartmental group’s deliberations and it would be premature to make any statement about it before then. This is a broadly based group of interdepartmental individuals who have engaged in a number of open consultation days with many of the stakeholders in the area. Shortly, an online questionnaire will be issued for both parents and providers to feed into this process.

I will now outline to the House several child care schemes that are currently in place. The child care education and training support scheme programme offers €145 per week towards the cost of a full day child care place. It also provides part time and after school places. The programme has a budget of €17 million per year and caters for approximately 8,000 children annually.

Deputy Seamus Healy:The Government is putting the cart before the horse. As I said already, the Government promised child care services comparable to those available in Scandinavia prior to this change taking effect. However, from 02 July next, single parents will be required to be available for job activation measures with no child care services being made available to them. This is definitely putting the cart before the horse. Will the change due to take effect from 02 July be deferred, given that the services are not in place to support it?

Deputy James Reilly: respectfully disagree with the Deputy’s contention that the Government is putting the cart before the horse. I have already described the child care education and training support programme and the Deputy’s contention that there are no services available is simply not true. There is also the after school child care programme, which is designed to support low-income and unemployed people to take up a job, increase their days of employment or take up a place on a Department of Social Protection employment programme. It provides after school care for primary school children of eligible parents for a period of 52 weeks. The programme contributes €40 per week for an after school place or €80 per week in situations where a pick-up service is available to take the child from school to the child care provider. The programme also provides a full day care rate of €105 per week for a maximum of ten weeks to cater for school holiday periods. In all cases the maximum fee payable by parents is €15 per week. I do not have time to go into detail on all of the other services available, but there is also a community employment child care programme and a community child care subvention programme.

Deputy Healy would have to agree that in the past we saw ample examples of Government throwing money at problems but not fixing them.

Dáil Éireann – 15/Apr/2015 Child Care Services Provision (Continued)// //

In this instance, we want a properly costed and analysed plan that will give the Government access to a range of options that will allow it to provide the greatest benefits for parents and children from the money it collects from taxpayers and spends in this area.-ENDS

Deputy Seamus Healy   asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs   if he will increase the capitation fee payable under the early childhood care and education scheme to the level required to provide the service; if he will reinstate the 2011 level of capitation as an interim measure; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [14647/15]

Deputy Seamus Healy:   This question relates to the level of funding available to child care facilities, particularly those which are community based. The level of such funding simply not adequate to allow such facilities to provide services.

MinisterJames Reilly

On funding, I have a budget for the year. Much and all though I might like it to be the case, I do not have additional funds available to allow me to increase the rate of capitation.

Further Questions to Minister Reilly from Seamus Healy TD

Second Free Year of Childcare, Extra Resources for Children with Disabilities in Chilcare, Cuts in School Completion Programme, Cuts in Provision of Youth Services

4 Further Non-Answers by Minister Reilly on Child Care to Seamus Healy TD

Extra Resources for Children with Disabilities in Childcare

Deputy Seamus Healy   asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs   if he is now in a position to provide extra resources to child care providers, in respect of children with additional and special needs; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [14456/15]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy James Reilly):   Additional provisions are made for children with special needs who access the free pre-school year under the Early Childhood Care and Education programme. These provisions include the option to avail of the programme on a pro-rata basis over a two year time period, and also the option to avail of an exemption to the upper age limit for entry to the programme.

The majority of children with special needs are in a position to access the free pre-school provision in mainstream childcare settings, but I want to ensure the consistency of support for those children who cannot avail of pre-school services without specialised support. My Department, in consultation with the Department of Health and the Department of Education and Skills, is working to develop an agreed framework for the provision of resources to support children with special needs in mainstream childcare settings.

The high level Inter-Departmental Group which I established to examine the issue of future investment in early years and school age care and education is considering all aspects of provision, including the issue of support for children with special needs who wish to access mainstream services. The Group is still in the early stages of its deliberations. I expect that a report will be provided to me in June this year. The Government will then be in a position to consider the direction of future investment in the sector, including in the very important area of special needs.

Cuts in School Completion Programme

2 Deputy Seamus Healy   asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs   in view of the fact that funding of the school completion programme has been cut from €32.9 million in 2008 to €24.7 million currently, including a cut of 6.5% in the current year, if he will restore the level of funding to this vital programme for young persons; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [14459/15]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy James Reilly):   The School Completion Programme aims to retain young people in the formal education system to completion of senior cycle and to improve the school attendance, participation and retention of its target cohort. It is a targeted intervention aimed at school communities identified under the Department of Education and Skills DEIS Action Plan. It involves 124 locally managed projects and provides targeted supports to approximately 36,000 children and young people.

Since 1st January 2014, the Child and Family Agency has operational responsibility for the School Completion Programme, including the allocation of funds to local projects. In 2014, an allocation of €24.756 million was provided for the School Completion Programme. The Agency has indicated a similar allocation for the programme in 2015.

The Agency has approved local projects’ school retention plans for the 2014/2015 academic year. The first two instalments of 2014/15 funding have issued to local projects, with a third instalment planned for May 2015.

The ESRI is currently reviewing the School Completion Programme, which will help in future decisions on its structure, governance and operation. Its final report is expected very shortly. The Minister for Education and Skills recently published an evaluation of the DEIS programme which was also prepared by the ESRI , and which refers to the School Completion Programme as an integral support within DEIS in improving attendance and engagement in education.

I have advised the Agency of my commitment to ensuring that there is no diminution in the school completion programme services. The School Completion Programme is an important service within the Agency’s educational welfare services. It is highly regarded as a key response in securing improved educational outcomes for children and young people at risk of early school leaving.

Second Free Year of Childcare

3  Deputy Seamus Healy   asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs   if he will provide a second full free preschool year for all children from the beginning of the new school year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14458/15]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy James Reilly):   The Early Childhood Care and Education programme provides one free pre-school year to all eligible children before commencing primary school. This programme represents an annual investment of more than €170 million in pre-school services.

The introduction of a second pre-school year would require considerable additional funding, broadly in line with the cost of the current provision. This additional funding is not currently available due to the financial constraints under which the Government is operating. I would like to be in a position to increase our investment in childcare-related programmes. This will take time, as the benefits of growth generate the required resources. However, I am determined that all such spending, whether existing or additional, will be based on good evidence and strategically co-ordinated, so that we achieve the best possible benefits for children and parents.

As you are aware, the Inter-Departmental Group which I recently established will look at early years provision right across the 0 to 6 age group, as well as consider the after-school needs of school-going children. It is crucial that we develop a coherent whole-of-Government approach to investment in childcare services and the Group has been asked to report me by the Summer.

All of the available evidence indicates that the quality of the pre-school provision is key to good outcomes for children. The Early Years Quality Agenda is being progressed by my Department. This involves a range of actions in key areas aimed at improving quality within early years services and enhancing the regulatory regime.

Youth Services Funding

Deputy Seamus Healy   asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs   if he will restore the 30% cut in youth services provision since 2008, including the cuts made by his Government since coming to office; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14460/15]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy James Reilly):   My Department administers a range of funding schemes and programmes to support the provision of youth services to young people throughout the country including those from disadvantaged communities. The funding schemes support national and local youth work provision to some 380,000 young people and involve approximately 1,400 youth work staff in 477 projects and 40,000 volunteers working in youth work services and communities throughout the country. My Department, along with all government departments, was required to deliver substantial savings on all funding programmes in line with the Comprehensive Review of Expenditure (CRE) in the years 2012, 2013 and 2014. In determining the annual allocations for youth programmes, while having regard to the CRE, my Department sought to ensure that, as far as is possible, the focus was maintained on the front line youth services particularly those for the most vulnerable young people. In 2015, funding of €49.93m has been provided to my Department for these schemes. There has been no reduction in the overall allocation for youth services in 2015 which was a key priority for youth organisations.

My Department is developing a new National Youth Strategy. Based on Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures – the National Policy Framework for Children and Young People 2014 – 2020, it will be a universal strategy for all young people aged 10 to 24. It will have a particular focus on those who are most disadvantaged or at risk and who have the poorest outcomes and therefore in most need of support.

The National Youth Strategy is being developed in close consultation with statutory youth interests and the voluntary youth organisations and services that work with young people. A comprehensive consultation with youth stakeholders and young people on the priorities for the strategy has recently concluded and my Department anticipates that the new National Youth Strategy will be completed by early Summer.

April 16 Burton Takes the Widows Mite (and the Lone Parent’s Mite As Well) Shocking Attack on Widows’ Entitlements discussed on Joe Duffy’s Liveline Listen to full discussion!rii=9%3A10405175%3A0%3A%3A

Working Widows and Lone Parents Can’t Get Sick!! Burton removed their right to illness benefit in 2013 irrespective of how many social insurance contribution they have! If husband were still alive they would have full entitlement to illness benefit!Mothers who are carers lose half the carers allowance on the death of their husbands! Citizens Information Page updated: 5 January 2015

Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s Pension (including occupational widow’s/widower’s pensions) and One-Parent Family Payment, Deserted Wife’s Allowance/Benefit or Prisoner’s Wife’s Allowance If you are getting any of these payments at the full rate you cannot get Illness Benefit at the same time. However if you are getting a reduced rate of one of these payments and become ill you may qualify for a reduced rate of Illness Benefit (so that the combined amount of both payments is not greater than the rate of IB to which you are entitled).

April 14 Lack of Adequate Child Care Provision  Parliamentary Questions to Minister Reilly by Seamus Healy TD Seamus Healy TD has put down  the following 7 Parliamentary Questions to Minister Reilly on Childcare Provision The  questions will be taken by the Minister in the Dáil Today Priority Questions 1 In view of the fact that from July 2, 2015 single parents of children over 7 years of age will be required to participate in activation measures outside the home in order to receive the full job seekers transition payment , will he provide free child care outside of school hours and in school holiday periods to the children affected as a matter of urgency? And if he will make a statement on the matter? 2 To ask the minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Reilly In view of your statement in reply to my question of Feb 18 “Staff remuneration does account for the great proportion of the overall cost of providing childcare services and I acknowledge that increased capitation and subvention payments through the childcare support programmes would assist childcare services in addressing these cost issues.    I have indicated that, if resources become available to my Department, I will consider the scope for increasing the level of these payments.” if he is now in a position to increase the capitation fee payable under the early childhood care and education scheme, to the level required to provide the service; if he will re-instate 2011 levels of capitation, as an interim measure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. PQ1 To ask the minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Reilly In view of his statement in reply to my Question of Feb 18 “  The majority of children with special needs avail of the free preschool year in mainstream child care services. I am aware that the Health Service Executive assists, where possible, children with special needs who may require additional support to enable them to avail of preschool services in mainstream settings, but the fact that this is not nationally consistent is a source of concern for me. My Department has been working with the Departments of Health and Education and Skills to build better supports that will facilitate children with special needs. The aim is to develop an agreed framework for the provision of resources to support children with special needs in mainstream child care settings.” if he is now in a position to provide extra resources to child care providers in respect of children with additional and special needs; and if he will make a statement on the matter?   PQ 2 To ask the minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Reilly, In the light of his statement on Feb 24: “  I recognise the difficulties being faced by childcare providers and I am aware of the concerns of childcare professionals in relation to levels of remuneration in the childcare sector. I met recently with their representatives to discuss a range of issues relating to childcare provision and I am giving careful consideration to their views on future developments in the sector.” if he will stipulate minimum salary levels for employees of child care providers who are in receipt of the capitation fee, and if he will make a statement on the matter?   PQ3 To ask the minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Reilly, In the light of his statement on Feb 24: “ There is an increasing body of Irish and international evidence quantifying the benefits of early years interventions in terms of improving outcomes for children and in delivering significant economic and societal return to the State. In this context, I believe the introduction of a second year would benefit children’s educational and developmental outcomes” if he will provide a second full free preschool year for all children from the beginning of the new school year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. PQ 4 To ask the minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Reilly, In view of the fact that funding of  the School Completion Programme has been cut from 32.9m in 2008 to 24.7 million currently including a 6.5% cut in the current school year, If he will restore the level of funding to this vital programme for young people and if he will make a statement on the matter   PQ 5 To ask the minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Reilly, If he will restore the 30% cut in youth services provision since 2008 including the cuts made by his government since coming to office? And if he will make a statement on the matter?     see also Reduction in Child Benefit  since 2008 on this blog update  Feb 18, 2015 Single Mothers Forced by Labours  Burton to take up work  outside Home when youngest child reaches 7 years of age! 32,000 Lone Parents to Lose up to 80£ per Week on July 2 7 year Olds Home Alone as Burton Breaks Promise to introduce Scandinavian Childcare System! Jack O’Connor(SIPTU) and Labour Affiliated  Unions Must Stop Labour’s Cruelty Now! From July 2,2015 when the youngest child of a single parent reaches 7 years of age, the parent will be transferred from the One Parent Family Payment to Transition Job Seekers Allowance. Job Seekers payments are normally only available to those actively seeking paid employment. A person who refuses to take up a job offer loses the payment. However to be eligible for the Jobseekers Transition allowance  “you must participate in employment activation measures and you have to participate in any recommended course of education, training or employment programme. If you don’t participate you may be paid a lower amount of JST (a penalty rate).” In the “transition” you need not seek or take up an actual job!But, even if you cannot afford childcare, you will have to accept a lower “penalty rate” if you need to look after a 7 year old child!! Several sociologists have shown conclusively that a person on One Parent Family payment and who is already working a number of hours per week will loose substantial weekly income! The system being introduced is clearly a “transition” to a situation where they will be forced to take up actual jobs without the “Scandinavian” childcare promised by Burton being in place. When introducing the Bill two years ago, Burton herself had admitted that accessible and affordable child care should be in place when the change is introduced. But it isn’t in place!!! With characteristic insensitivity, Burton is introducing the change on the day primary schools close for the summer holidays and the seven year old will be at home all day requiring child care!!! INCOME CUTS FOR LONE PARENTS From July 2nd lone parents working more than 19 hours a week would lose the one-parent family payment when their youngest child turned seven years of age. Up to 32,000 families will be affected by this measure and, in many cases, their incomes will be slashed by up to €80 per week. Burton9Labour!) has been persistent and consistent in reducing the child age threshold for the payment.

It has already been reduced from 14 years to 12 in 2012, and to 10 years in 2013. Now she has reduced it to 7 years of age!!!

 The deprivation rate among lone parents is 230 per cent higher than it is among the general population, and 33 per cent higher than it is among those who are unemployed.

The change to 7 years  amounts to a serious attack on loan parents

Jack O’Connor(SIPTU) and Labour Party Affiliated  Unions Must Stop Labour’s Cruelty to ONE PARENT Families . UNITE THE UNION has already Dissaffiliated from the Labour Party

OCT 27, 2014 CHILD POVERTY INCREASED UNDER FF, FG, LABOUR IRELAND NOW AT 37 OUT OF 41 COUNTRIES FOR CHILD WELFARE UNICEF REPORT ON CHILD POVERTY IN RICH COUNTRIES Irish Children Fell Furthest and Fastest in comparison to all other sections of the population during recession (2008-2012) All three TROIKA Parties are responsible The Department of Social Protection (?) has a special responsibility for preventing child poverty The Department has been headed by current Labour Party Leader Joan Burton for the past 3 and a half years. She reduced child benefit. No priority was given to reducing child poverty in the recent budget Why has Labour Leader Joan Burton not resigned as Minister for Social Protection? A new study from UNICEF on the impact of the recession on children in 41 developed countries places Ireland close to the bottom of the list. The report has ranked Ireland in 37th place in the league table measuring relative changes in child poverty. Only Croatia, Latvia, Greece and Iceland finished below Ireland in the UNICEF league table. The report looked at the impact of the economic crisis on child well-being. It found Irish families with children have lost the equivalent of ten years of income progress. The child poverty rate rose by over 10% to 28.6% between 2008 and 2012. This corresponds to a net increase of more than 130,000 poor children in Ireland. Comparatively, poverty among older people has increased by 2.5% during the same period. Of the 41 countries surveyed, 18 recorded a reduction in child poverty, including Chile, Australia and Poland. UNICEF said the data showed a strong correlation between the impact of the financial crisis and a disproportionate decline in children’s well-being. UNICEF Ireland Executive Director Peter Power said: “Countries should place the well-being of children at the top of their priorities during economic recessions. “Not only is this a moral obligation, but it is in the long term self-interest of societies. “Children living in poverty are more likely to become impoverished adults and have poor children, creating and sustaining intergenerational cycles of poverty.” Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr Power outlined the long-term problems if the issue of child poverty is not addressed and what the Government needs to do. He said: “We need to look at this whole problem from a child’s rights perspective. Children have a right to grow up outside of endemic poverty. “One very important recommendation that we would ask Government to look at and that’s this – that they set out certain red lines and if poverty indicators fall below those red lines that it automatically triggers an intervention by Government.”

Categories: Uncategorized

UPDATE:SIPTU Leader On Budget And Future of Left

October 15, 2014 Leave a comment

Update November 1


Jack O’Connor on Newstalk Breakfast Oct 31-Eve of Demonstrations

Extracts from Interview

“Preventing the introduction of charges  would mean the people of Ireland paying more not less for water–People of Ireland would pay twice as much—–If the Irish people don’t pay their charges to the Irish water company it will lead to privatisation of that company— Abolishing charges doesntn’t mean we wont pay, we will pay more,at least  twice as much more”


Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast Oct 31, SIPTU President Jack O Connor withdrew the SIPTU threat to join the water charges protests to-day even though the government has not acceded to the union’s demand for a refundable tax credit to cover all normal use of water.

Clearly,the threat to join the demonstrations last week was a manipulation designed to deflect internal pressure from members on the issue.

The interview with Jack o’Connor  carried below and the new SIPTU statement issued yesterday are tissues of deception designed to cover up the capitulation of Siptu to water charges.

Irish Water has been set up commercial entity to sell water to consumers.

As such it is subject  to EU rules preventing state aid to commercial companies even when owned by the state

Jack O’Connor knows that it would be illegal for the state to effectively  pay all charges for normal water usage under EU directives. THE GOVERNMENT IS SAYING SO!!!!

He is also accepting that low and middle income recipients would have to pay for future investment in water provision . As can be seen in the post “Irish Super-Rich Awash with Money” on this Blog, The top 10,000 have a total of almost 6 billion in income between (595,000 per year each on average) and the Irish Rich now have shares and bank deposits (Fiancial Assets) valued well above peak boom levels. Why not get the money for investment from them!


All the current and future governments have to do is to freeze the allowances and allow the charges to rise each year. This can be done without privatisation. Remember what happened to the “waiver” on bin charges!

Making water a commodity rather than a universal public service or public good  makes it far easier to privatise. Bin charges were the beginning of the road to privatisation and lower pay for SIPTU members(eg Grehound Dispute)

We are being led up the garden path by Jack O’Connor and the Labour Party to which SIPTU remains affiliated.


UPDATE Saturday  October 25

The presure on SIPTU to JOIN the Right2Water campaign is having effect

The statement below by the National Executive Committe  of SIPTU threatens to join the demonstrations next Saturday unless government provides a non-refundable tax credit to every household to meet the normal needs of the household for water.

The problem about this is that even if it were conceded, it would enshrine the position of paying for water in legislation. After the next election, the new government could simply reduc/abolish the tax credit and increase the charges.

SIPTU should simply join the campaign and mobilise its members now for Saturday next!

Unfortunately, there is no mention in the statement ionbelow of the action of the Labour Party in voting to approve water charges in a Dáil vote last Thursday. SIPTU is affiliated to Labour but made no call on the party to vote against the charges in the Dáil. UNITE THE UNION has already disaffiliated from LABOUR due to the party support for austerity including pay and pension cuts

SIPTU NEC statement on water charges

Date Released: 24 October 2014

At its monthly meeting today (Friday 24th October), the National Executive Council of SIPTU agreed the following statement on the issue of water charges.

1.      The Government must take a step back and rethink its approach on the way it is implementing the water charges regime. It must defer the payment which is due in the Spring of 2015 and develop a way of providing for the new investment that is required over the next number of years to fund the provision of a high quality treated water supply in a way that commands a reasonable degree of acceptance, while retaining it in public control and ownership.

2.      The new approach must offset the cost of an adequate supply of treated water to meet each household’s normal domestic needs, while preserving the incentive for conservation.

3.      We believe that the Refundable Tax Credit option, which would cost less than €350m per annum, is the best approach, thus far at least.

4.      As it stands, and in the absence of such a rebalancing measure, the proposed charging structure is profoundly regressive and inequitable. This is because, whereas people’s normal need for water doesn’t vary greatly, the impact of the charge affects those on lower to middle incomes to a much greater degree in relative terms than the wealthy. The plain fact of the matter is that there are far too many people who simply cannot pay, and too many more who will find it extremely difficult to do so.

5.      If the Government does not adjust its approach, we will seek engagement with others in the trade union movement, as well as relevant civil society organisations, with a view to developing an agreed policy solution to provide for the necessary investment in the water supply in a manner that retains it in public ownership and control and conducting a campaign on that basis.

6.      Abolishing charges and reverting to the general taxation system will not mean that people pay less. In fact, it will mean paying more through increased taxation or further cuts in public services or both.*  Indeed, we will pay more still for the water we use, because in the absence of measures to incentivise conservation, we will also be paying for the amount that others waste.

7.      A campaign that does not identify a clear policy solution could open the avenue for privatisation of this essential public utility, notwithstanding what the law says, or the declared commitments of the main political parties.** This could come about by reason of the inability of Irish Water to collect the revenues necessary to enable it to remain solvent as a commercial entity. This, in turn, would open the way for the introduction of private money to the detriment of necessary investment in favour of profit taking, as occurred in Eircom.

8.      The privatisation of the domestic refuse collection service provides a salutary lesson. Everyone now pays the domestic waste charge, but it goes to swelling the profits of private operators. Thousands of people on lower incomes whose charges were waived now have to pay the full cost. Meanwhile, the terms and conditions of employment in the service have been reduced to deplorable levels.

9.      We also call on everyone to refrain from all forms of attacks and intimidation of workers. These cannot be condoned or defended in any circumstances.
*See point 3 of “Background notes” attached here.

** See point 4 of “Background notes” attached here.


IS SIPTU JACK O’Connor hiding on Water Charge Issue?

To-Day John Douglas, General Secretary of MANDATE TRADE UNION called on the government once again to reconsider its position and to abolish water charges in an interview on RTe News at ONE. To its credit MANDATE and UNITE have put significant resources into the Right2Water Campaign. John is also the current President of ICTU but he was speaking on behalf of MANDATE

Fianna Fail has put down a private members motion calling for the suspension of the water charges. This is not of course enough but it would seriously weaken the government position if passed.

WILL JACK O’CONNOR AND SIPTU INSIST THAT LABOUR PARTY TDs VOTE FOR THE MOTION or- as usually happens in the Dáil -against the amendment which the government will put down in favour of the charges?

Will SIPTU Continue to Support Labour Leader Joan Burton and the imposition of water charges?

I am asked on twitter how Siptu Jack O’Connor can “make” the Labour Party  vote against the water charges

The answer is simple. The affiliation of SIPTU to LABOUR is almost the sole support of Labour after the local, European and the two bye-elections. UNITE has already dissaffiliated. If SIPTU threatened to dissaffiliate , Labour would have little choice but to withdraw support from the charges.

Even a statement by Jack O’Connor calling for the abolition of the charges would have a huge effect. Any hope the government may have had of collecting the charges would be at an end. Its up to Jack O’Connor!!!!!


There is an urgent need for a discussion on the way ahead for the Labour, Trade Union and Republican movements. SIPTU is by far the largest Irish (32-county) union and the main current and historic Irish workers organisation. The Labour Party , has been a relatively marginal organisation, since the end of the War of Independence. I will address Jack O Connors contribution shortly.

In another post on this Blog, a recent article by the SIPTU Leader in the Sinn Féin monthly magazine, An Phoblacht, is carried.   The title of the post is “What would A Sinn Féin Led Government Do?”


Jack O’Connor, General President and Leader of SIPTU  on Tonight With Vincent Browne (TV3)  Tuedsay Oct 14   Budget Day


Jack O Connor :The People who benefitted most (from the budget)were between 30 and 70,000 and people below 12,000 but —any Budget that does not impose a wealth tax and does not deal with the allowances wealthy people enjoy is unfair-good for wealthy. This will continue while the majority support parties of the centre right

Vincent Browne:  Some say it is because people like you support such parties

JO’C:  I support the Labour Party

VB   That is a party of the centre right

JO’B   No, The Labour Party is a party of the left. Labour has sacrificed itself protecting ordinary people to the extent that that was possible in government. It had to do this because 60% of the population voted for the centre right9in the last election)

VB:  Why have the Irish people been so unprepared to protest unlike Greece, France. Some say it is because the trade unions haven’t been prepared to do anything about the unfairness of targeting those on low and middle incomes for austerity

JO’C:  The trade unions led or participated in all the initiatives around these issues over the last 6 years.

INTERJECTION:     You weren’t there on Saturday Jack! (Mass Demonstration of 100,000 against Water Charges-PH)

VB: Why weren’t you there on Saturday Jack?

JO’C:   Unions led that demonstration and the Right 2 Water campaign.

VB :     Yes UNITE Trade Union for example

JO’C:   The reason we weren’t there is because we have spent a long period of time this year lobbying for a refundable tax credit to cover the normal requirement for water.

VB :  You failed in that

JO’C:   What happened to-day represents the right approach but it is inadequate to meet this

VB:   But, but—

JO’C:    You must let me say what I came here to say. We have all sorts of differences here on the left.  Contrary to what people say, I am on the left. I aspire to a fundamental redistribution of wealth. But the only way we will achieve it and I think there is a possibility of achieving it if only an outside possibility, but nonetheless worth trying to do— is if we stop gutting each other  and achieve a degree of cohesion on the left

VB: You mean People Before Profit and the Socialist Party—

J O’C:   I’m just talking about people on the left. Let’s stop being divisive for a second and develop a degree of cohesion and a political programme  that addresses the issues not just what we are against but what we are for and addresses the issue of the way in which on foot of a redistribution of wealth we will develop the dynamic economy which will actually create wealth—- And as long as our politics on the left are only about what we are against we will continue to get majorities of the people voting for the centre right parties and we will continue to blame each other for what went wrong.

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October 5, 2014 Leave a comment

Italy budget: Rome rejects European Commission demands

The Italian government has defied the European Commission by sticking to its big-spending budget plan.

Finance Minister Giovanni Tria said it would keep to a deficit target of 2.4% and a growth forecast of 1.5%.

The Commission, worried by the impact of high spending on Italy’s high levels of debt, had told Rome to revise the budget or face possible fines.

It had set Tuesday as a deadline to Italy’s governing populist parties to respond to its objections.

The Commission’s warning to Italy, the eurozone’s third-biggest economy, is an unprecedented move with regard to an European Union member state.

It will now decide whether to begin disciplinary measures against the Rome government.

Italian government bond yields rose to a three-week high amid fears that its budget decision would raise borrowing costs. The Milan stock exchange fell 1% before recovering some of its losses.

Why does Italy want to spend more?

Italy’s government, made up of the populist Five Star Movement and right-wing populist League, came to power vowing to “end poverty” with a minimum income for the unemployed, along with promises of tax cuts and scrapping extensions to the retirement age.


To fulfil its promises it trebled the previous government’s deficit target of 0.8% of Italy’s economic output.

In his letter to the Commission, Mr Tria reaffirmed Italy’s commitment to maintain public finances, but insisted it would stick to a deficit target of 2.4% which he said was an “impassable limit”.

He said Italy would aim to generate 1% of GDP by selling state assets with which it would pay back debt. However, it also faces considerable costs because of “exceptional events”.

e from flooding in several areas of Italy will cost some 0.2% of economic output, Italy’s finance minister predicts

In his letter he cited the cost of the collapse of the Morandi bridge in Genoa in August, which 43 people died; he also mentioned weeks of flooding and bad weather that caused damage in many areas of Italy in recent weeks.

The total cost of repairs would equal around 0.2% of GDP for the next three years.

Mr Salvini, who leads the League party, was quoted as telling Rai radio on Wednesday that the Commission had “got it wrong if they are even just thinking of imposing fines on the Italian people”.

Luigi Di Maio of Five Star said: “We have the conviction that this is the budget needed for the country to get going again.”

The government argues that servicing its debt of 131% of national output – second only to bailed-out Greece – would hurt Italians, who have still not recovered from the decade-old financial crisis.

Italy’s economy is still smaller than it was in 2008. The governing coalition argues an increase in spending would kick-start growth.

How bad is Italy’s debt?

Italy’s debt level is described by the European Commission as a “major vulnerability” for its economy.

In July the EU recommended that it should be cut by 0.6% of GDP in 2019, but the Commission believes the current budget will increase Italy’s structural deficit by 0.8% of GDP.

In his letter to the Commission, Mr Tria was upbeat about the country’s growth prospects, predicting that Italy’s debt would fall over the next three years to reach 126% of GDP in 2021.

On Tuesday the International Monetary Fund challenged his predicted growth assumptions of 1.5% for 2019 and 1.6% for 2020, with its own estimate of 1% for 2020.

“For the first time the Commission is obliged to request a euro area country to revise its draft budgetary plan but we see no alternative than to request the Italian authorities to do so,” the European Commission Vice-President for the euro, Valdis Dombrovskis, said last month.

He pointed out that Italian taxpayers were having to spend as much servicing the national debt as on education.

Dutch Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra said it was very disappointing that Italy had failed to change its budget. Austria said it would back the Commission if it stepped up its action against Italy with what is known as an Excessive Deficit Procedure (EDP).

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday that the EU wanted to reach out to Italy but that it had adopted budget rules “that we all now have in common”.




The Sunday Business Post October 5, 2014

Sean Whelan: Ordered to obey strict austerity measures like everyone else, France
nonetheless said non. Italy has followed suit
Perhaps we should be more continental

It is, of course, a lot easier to defy the EU’s budget rules when you have a fleet of nuclear

submarines at your disposal. Still, France has gone ahead and given the two fingers to

Brussels, prompting some to talk of a declaration of independence, and others (more

prosaically) to recall 2003 and the wrecking of the original stability and growth pact.

Like ourselves, France is supposed to get its deficit down below 3 per cent next year. But

in his draft budget on Wednesday, the French finance minis¬ter Michel Sapin said he is

not going to. France will run a 4.3 per cent deficit next year – a whole 0.1 per cent better

than this year – because, it says, aus¬terity is not right for France.

2017 is the new date for a sub-3 per cent deficit in France, though the French version of

the fiscal advisory council has its doubts about the growth needed for this.

The Italians, who lack nuclear weap¬ons, have nevertheless said much the same thing in

their budget draft: stuff this austerity thing, we need some cash – ostensibly for growth-

promot¬ing reforms – but cash, anyway.

That two of the big three states of the eurozone have decided to defy the rules should

make for an interesting Ecofin council in November, when ministers get together to

review each others’ draft budgets. It has already poisoned the political atmosphere in the

European Parliament, where Pierre Moscovici faced a torrid hearing in his bid to

become economics commis¬sioner. Having failed to meet the defi¬cit rules as finance

minister in France, Moscovici is now supposed to be the budget enforcer for

everyone else.

Does all of this herald an almighty Euro-row in the weeks before Christ¬mas, potentially

destabilising not just for the stability pact, but the currency and the bond market? More

importantly, what’s in it for us?

Michael Noonan and Brendan Howlin went in opposite directions when I asked them

about the French budget.

Noonan said the rules were the rules, they applied equally to big and small, and they

had to be adhered to for the good of all. Howlin, meanwhile,, who met Sapin and his

budget minister in Paris three weeks ago, was less certain – given the choice between a

rules-compliant (and therefore con¬tractionary) France or an expanding France, he sees

growth there as being good for Ireland

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