Pensioner Power forces government climb-down on medical cards

People Before Profit Calls for universal access to be restored

The Trade Union leadership should call for a united protest against the budget

Ireland’s pensioners have forced the Fianna Fail/Green/PD government into a humiliating climb-down on many of the worst aspects of the disgraceful attack on medical card entitlement.

However, the battle is not over yet. The government are still trying to break the principle of automatic

entitlement and introduce a significant degree of means testing.

The People Before Profit spokesperson, Richard Boyd Barrett, today said

“There is also no reason to trust the government that the newly increased thresholds for entitlement will not be reduced at some time in the future.  We should not accept the government’s attempt to do away with automatic entitlement to medical cards for pensioners because it sets a dangerous precedent. It could be the bus pass, child benefit or any other essential public service next. It precisely at a time of economic down-turn and rising prices, that we need to ensure universal access to essential services such as health, education, public transport, housing and other vital services.”

It is clear, that the agenda underlying many of the measures in the budget and many current government plans, is precisely to attack this principle of universal access or automatic entitlement to a whole number of essential services.  Over recent years we have seen the introduction and hiking up of A&E charges, bin charges, rapidly increasing fuel prices and a whole range of other stealth taxes that have hurt the old, the vulnerable and the less well off.

Across the board the budget is  packed full of attacks and cutbacks that will hurt those who are most

vulnerable and in need in Irish society. Plans to increase class sizes, the 1% levy, hike A&E charges, cut child benefit to 18 year olds, increase third level registration fees, increases in

VAT and swinging cuts in the health budgets and other public services are an absolute disgrace.

Those who created the current economic crisis have got off scot free.  With no proposals to tax their wealthy friends Fianna Fail (ably backed by the PDs and the Greens) have ensured that developers and speculators will suffer no pain from the budget.  The government continues to favour and protect this super-wealthy elite at the expense of ordinary people.

The fantastic demonstrations by our senior citizens have shown that people power can force the government to change.

Mr Boyd Barrett today called on trade union leaders to call for a united demonstration of all those affected by the budget. He said

“The changes to the 1% levy will not protect the lower paid.  It is now clear that the national wage agreement is completely inadequate and will lead to real and lasting cuts in living standards.  The union leaders, in conjunction with senior citizens, teachers and students, should now seek to mobilise the widest opposition to the government’s proposals”.


Contact Eddie Conlon 087 6775468 or Richard Boyd Barrett 087 6329511