Wednesday, 6 November 2013
Finance (No. 2) Bill 2013: Second Stage (Resumed)
I propose to share time with Deputy Finian McGrath. As the finance spokesperson for People Before Profit-United Left Alliance, it is a rather depressing task to have to respond to the Finance Bill, which is a classic case of the putting profit before people. It is consistent with an economic line of thinking that has continued since before the economic crash, which always put profit before people. It has had devastating consequences for the economy, the European economy and the wider global economy, for hundreds of millions of citizens across the world and most certainly for the majority of ordinary citizens in this country, including working people, young people, pensioners, the less well-off and the disabled. These are all the people who continue to be the victims of a set of policy priorities that always put the interests of bankers, corporations and the super-wealthy ahead of the needs of society as a whole and the majority of citizens. Sadly, the Bill continues in that vein.
The budget saw vicious attacks instigated against young people, pensioners, the sick and - disgracefully - the chronically ill. The other side of the coin was meted out in the so-called Social Welfare Bill, and the Finance Bill continues the policy of protecting and promoting the interests of the super-wealthy and big corporations at the expense of ordinary citizens. To cut a long story short, it is consistent with long-standing Fine Gael policy to hammer away at the social welfare state and replace it with a corporate welfare state. We will nurture, protect and insulate the wealthy and the corporations and pay for it with vicious, relentless attacks on ordinary citizens. All of this is justified by spin and claims by the Government to the effect that things are improving and that the people out there do not really understand that things are getting better, the economy is turning around, we now have growth and employment and, at the end of the path to recovery charted by the Government, we will exit the bailout.
I put it to the Minister of State that it is a fantasy and a mirage at best, if not completely dishonest Government spin designed to cover up the reality of what the Government is doing to ordinary people. It goes without saying that for huge numbers of people, whatever facts and figures may be quoted, the situation is not improving. Six hundred and sixty-six million euro will be taken from the already battered health budget, affecting the least well-off. Has the Minister of State or the media considered the coincidence of that figure, €666 million? It is the mythical number of the beast in the Bible. I am not religious, but we know what it says in the Bible: "Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six." It is said that it will bring death, pestilence and apocalypse. Sadly, this Government is deploying that number against our health service and it will bring death and pestilence to our already battered health service. That is not rhetoric; it was confirmed by the heads of the hospitals today, the consultants who said that the Government's policies and attacks on the health service are threatening needless suffering and even death for health service users.