- Title: IRELAND: Budget threatens to be the Grinch that stole Christmas
- Date: 7th December 2010
- Summary: SIGN FOR "GRAFTON STREET" IN ENGLISH AND IRISH RETAIL UNIT "FOR SALE" SIGN "TO LET" SIGN OVER SHOP SHOP WITH "20 PERCENT OFF" SIGNS IN WINDOWS MORE OF SIGN READING "20 PERCENT OFF" IN SHOP WINDOW CROWDS OF PEOPLE ON STREET "HAPPY CHRISTMAS" SIGN IN SHOP WINDOW (SOUNDBITE) (English) ADRIENNE VAVASSEUR, SAYING "People are cutting back on Christmas shopping this year and not buying as much. Everybody is in fear for tomorrow and they are holding back until tomorrow to see what money is going to be about. But we are all feeling the pinch, Christmas parties and everything. So it's going to be a gloomy Christmas for most people this year." STREET CROWDED WITH SHOPPERS AND CHRISTMAS LIGHTS OVERHEAD CHRISTMAS LIGHTS READING "HAPPY CHRISTMAS" IN IRISH CLOSING DOWN SALE IN SHOP WINDOW (SOUNDBITE) (English) LOUIS BRENNAN, SAYING "I feel sorry for people who haven't got an awful lot and who are on social welfare, they are obviously going to suffer the most you know. It looks as if we are in for a tough time and we'll just have to struggle through you know, that's as much as you can say. We hope it won't be as bad as people have been saying, or that they've given us the worst case scenario and it'll actually be better on the day, that's about as much as we can say, you know." PEOPLE AT CASH MACHINES OUTSIDE BANK AIB BANK SIGN MORE OF PEOPLE AT CASH MACHINES WOMAN AT ANOTHER CASH MACHINE (SOUNDBITE) (English) SHANE HIGGINS, SAYING "I think everyone in Ireland should be worried about the economy. It's nothing but negative doom and gloom at the moment, so, I suppose regardless of the time of year,one has to be concerned about it." (SOUNDBITE) (English) BARBARA LAWLER, SAYING "There's no point in feeling angry, you'll only get yourself down. At the end of the day you have to get on with it, lift yourself up and get out." BEWLEY'S CAFÃ‰ PEOPLE OUTSIDE BEWLEY'S CAFÃ‰ WOMAN SEATED ON GROUND PLAYING ACCORDION WOMAN'S HANDS AS SHE PLAYS ACCORDION MAN WALKS BY WOMAN PLAYING ACCORDION CHRISTMAS LIGHTS READING "HAPPY CHRISTMAS" IN IRISH
- Embargoed: 22nd December 2010 12:00
- Location: Ireland, Ireland
- Country: Ireland
- Topics: Economic News,Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA8JQ4KCT2KV559TIQ9KTSU86O7
- Story Text: Christmas lights twinkle brightly on Dublin's main shopping street, but the mood is far from cheerful.
On Tuesday (December 7) Ireland's Finance Minister Brian Lenihan will present his austerity budget to parliament - and the Irish are being warned to brace themselves for a harsh future.
The streets are busy, but not many people are spending much, fearing what the budget will mean for their household finances.
"People are cutting back on Christmas shopping this year and not buying as muchâ€¦ We are all feeling the pinch, Christmas parties and everything. So it's going to be a gloomy Christmas for most people this year," said Adrienne Vavasseur.
Prime Minister Brian Cowen's Fianna Fail ruling party want to push through a budget that will slash 15 billion euros from the public purse over four years. Six billion is due to be cut in one year alone.
The cuts will come in the form of reigning in public spending on welfare programmes, such as reducing the minimum wage and tax hikes.
Rights campaigners and unions have said the plans will hit the poorest the hardest.
Louis Brennan said he worries about what the austerity measures will do to those on the lowest economic rung of society.
"I feel sorry for people who haven't got an awful lot and who are on social welfare, they are obviously going to suffer the most you know. It looks as if we are in for a tough time and we'll just have to struggle through," he said.
Cowen has a two-seat majority in parliament meaning the budget could fail on Tuesday, when the first of three votes is due, if two independent lawmakers who usually back the coalition pull their support.
A substantial number of lawmakers from Ireland's main opposition party Fine Gael are ready to help pass the 2011 budget if traditional supporters of the government vote against it, an MP from the party said on Monday.
Two Independent MP's have not said how they plan to vote and are talking with the government about the conditions for their support.
If they withhold their backing, Cowen will need members of his chief rivals Fine Gael to abstain in order to keep the budget on track for passage. A failure of the vote on Tuesday would plunge the country deeper into crisis by triggering a snap election and preventing the flow of EU/IMF rescue funds.
Last month Cowen's government had to ask for an international bailout, to the anger of many ordinary Irish people who believe those in power have mismanaged the economy during the so-called Celtic Tiger boom years.
"I think everyone in Ireland should be worried about the economy. It's nothing but negative doom and gloom at the moment, so, I suppose regardless of the time of year,one has to be concerned about it," said Shane Higgins.
Cowen has committed to calling an election once the final budget resolution has passed in the first quarter of 2011. Fine Gael is widely expected to take power after the vote in a coalition with the Labour party.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None