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Irish Times letters: 'Wanted - Emergency Budget'

20th January 2012

Sir, – It is now clear that austerity policies are not working. The domestic economy will remain recession this year. The Government has accepted that employment, consumer spending and investment will fall again. We are experiencing a worrying rise in income inequality, with nearly one-in-four in the country suffering from deprivation. Women and children are particularly adversely affected. We are entering into a lengthy period of low-growth, high debt and high unemployment, while creating a society with deep social injustices, not least for young people who have no sustainable jobs and no future in Ireland.

We need a Plan B. We urge the Government to adopt emergency policy measures that can create jobs, generate sustainable growth, raise incomes and reduce poverty. This is the only sustainable route to economic recovery and fiscal stability.

Such a Plan B must include a substantial investment programme directed at infrastructure, education and labour skills. From Next Generation Broadband to pre-primary education, to a modern water and waste system, we must create new wealth-generating assets that will grow jobs, income and the economy in a sustainable and environmentally just way. This can be funded from part of the €15 billion or more the Government currently holds in cash and assets.

We need to redistribute income from high incomes and large wealth-holdings to low- and average income-earners, whether they are in work or reliant upon social protection, or both. This will lift demand in the economy, boost enterprises and create new jobs.

This should be done through new taxation measures on capital, property and high incomes.

We need to end overall spending cuts in public services, social protection and community projects; these are depressing employment in the private sector due to declining demand for goods and services, while undermining public sector reform and efficient management. It is socially demoralising and politically damaging.

We need to face up to the burden private banking debt is placing on the economy. In particular, repaying the debts of Anglo-Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide is economically irrational and socially obscene. The total cost of bailing out these dead banks could exceed €70 billion over the next 20 years. The Government must take immediate action to renegotiate this debt with a view to redirecting these payments into investment, public services and living standards.

Repeating past failures is no longer an option. We, the under-signed, call on the Government to launch an emergency budget that will instigate a Plan B for jobs, growth and a socially just and sustainable Ireland. – Yours, etc,

AILBHE SMYTH, Feminist Open Forum; ALISON SPILLANE, Irish Feminist Network; ANASTASIA CRICKLEY, Department of Applied Social Studies, NUI Maynooth; Dr ANDY STORY, School of Politics International Relations, UCD; Dr AUSTIN CARROLL, General Practitioner; ANNA QUIGLEY, Director, Dublin Aids Alliance; Sr BERNADETTE Mac MAHON, DC, Vincentian Partnership for Justice; BREDA GRAY, Department of Sociology, University of Limerick; BRIAN DONOVAN, Business owner and Director, Eneclann Ltd; BRID O’BRIEN, Head of Policy, Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed; BRID MAGUIRE, Psychotherapist; Fr BOBBY GILMORE, Columban Missionary Society; Dr COLM O’DOHERTY, Dept of Humanities and Social Science,Tralee IT; CHARLES STANLEY SMITH, Former Chair An Taisce; Dr CHRIS MCINERNEY, Dept of Politics and Public Administration, UL; CHARLES GILLANDERS, IT Director; Dr CONOR MCCABE, Historian and Author; DEREK SPEIRS, photographer; DONAGH BRENNAN, Editor, Irish Left Review; FIONA FITZSIMONS, Historian and Director of Eneclann Ltd; FRANCES BYRNE, CEO, OPEN; Dr GAVAN TITLEY, Dept of Media Studies, NUI Maynooth; Dr HARRY BROWNE, School of Media, DIT; HELEN LOWRY, Chairperson, Community Workers Cooperative; Dr HELENA SHEEHAN, Prof Emerita, DCU; JAMES KELLY, Film Producer, Feenish Productions; Dr JOHN BARRY, Centre for Sustainability and Environmental Governance, Queen’s University; JOHN BISSETT, Community Worker, Canal Communities, Dublin; JOHN BAKER, UCD School of Social Justice; JOHN SUTTON, Public Communications Centre; JOE LARRAGHY, Dept of Applied Social Studies, NUI Maynooth; JOHN LONERGAN, former governer, Mountjoy Prison; Dr KATHLEEN LYNCH, Centre for Equality Studies, UCD School of Social Justice; LIAM HERRICK, Director, Irish Penal Reform Trust; LINDA KELLY, Cork Feminista; MALACHY BROWNE, Editor, politico.ie; Dr MARIE MORAN, Equality Studies, UCD School of Social Justice; Dr MARY MURPHY, Dept of Politics, NUI Maynooth; Dr MARY McAULIFFE, Women’s Studies, UCD School of Social Justice; MICHAEL BARRON, Director, BeLonG To Youth Services for LGBT young people; MAUREEN WARD, Chairperson, Irish Traveller Movement; MAJELLA MULKEEN, Dept of Humanities, IT Sligo; Dr NAT O’CONNOR, Director, TASC; NIALL CROWLEY, Equality Consultant; NIAMH McCREA, Dept of Humanities, IT Carlow; NIALL WALSH, Leitrim Sculpture Centre; Dr PEADAR KIRBY, Dept of Politics and Public Administration, UL; PHILIP WATT, former director National Consultative Committee Racism and Interculturalism; RACHEL MULLEN, Co-ordinator, Equality Rights Alliance; ROBIN HANON, Director, European Anti-Poverty Network; RONNIE FAY, Director, Pavee Point; Dr RORY HEARNE, Community Worker, Regeneration Co-ordinator, Dolphin House, Dublin; SIOBHÁN O’DONOGHUE, Director, Migrant Rights Centre Ireland; Dr SHEILA KILLIAN, Kemmy Business School, UL; Dr Stephen James Minton, School of Education, Trinity College Dublin; SUZY BYRNE, Blogger and Disability Activist; Dr TERRENCE McDONAGH, Dept of Economics, NUI Galway; THERESE CAHERTY, Irish Feminist Forum; Dr TOM O’CONNOR, Dept of Social Studies, Cork IT URSULA BARRY, School of Social Justice, UCD. C/o Parnell Square, Dublin 1.