Talk of 1916 anniversary ‘hollow’ while Govt targets poor – SVP

The 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising will be a hollow celebration if the Government continues savage cuts to the most vulnerable, the Society of St Vincent de Paul has warned.


Amid talk of further deep budget cuts, the SVP, the country’s largest charity, says the coalition is failing to give people hope and insists that the Government must accept that further austerity will only affect those already struggling to make ends meet.


The SVP is already spending €70m a year helping hard-pressed families make ends meet in parishes and communities across the country.


Speaking to The Irish Catholic this week, SVP’s National Vice-President for Social Justice, Tom MacSweeney said: “The Government has a duty to provide hope to its people, even in the worst of times.”


“It has already begun planning to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising of 1916 when the core of what was then proclaimed as the future for Ireland pledged equality for all citizens. That is not the reality of today,” he said.


The SVP’s intervention comes after a major keynote speech by Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore outlining Government plans to make the 1916 centenary celebrations more inclusive.


Mr MacSweeney insisted that the Government is listening too much to influential voices who are advocating for further austerity rather than showing true leadership by protecting those hardest hit by economic hardships. “They do not understand the reality of suffering,” he said. “The Government has removed hope from many citizens by its policies of austerity,” he added.


According to Mr MacSweeney, the SVP “accepts there must be economic discipline”. However he noted “there are too many families in distress and the Government should take note of the many people who are now in serious trouble”.


“There is a much wider spread of people in difficulty now. Austerity has clearly not worked,” he said.


He added: “There has to be another way and we do not see leadership in Government showing there is another option. We want an Ireland of social equality with chances and opportunity for all people.That opportunity is not there at the moment,” he said.


The SVP plea for the most vulnerable comes amid growing tension between Fine Gael and Labour over next month’s budget. Ministers are reportedly divided on whether cuts totalling €3.1bn should go ahead or whether the policy of austerity should be eased. Education, health and social welfare are expected to be hardest hit.