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Lowry To Gain Further Reassurances After Budget U-Turn

Tipperary politicians were not available this morning to comment on the countries leading story, however Thurles.info did manage to contact North Tipperary Independant TD Michael Lowry about the Governments recent u-turn.

Thurles.Info: Q: Michael, will you be supporting the government in the vote, after tonights debate?

Michael: A: “As a result of the events of the past week, certainly,I have had to reflect deeply on my current position as an independent supporter of the present government. It goes without saying that my political career has always and will continue to be devoted to the protection of the elderly and the vulnerable, in our society. In spite of my electorate being understandably seething with anger with this Government, I have decided that it is better to work for change than to take the easy option and walk away.

Necessary changes are always brought about by submission, debate & compromise within the decision making arena. In a democracy a politician has only one obligation & that is to represent the electorate with commitment and integrity. At the outset of this avoidable controversy, I made it very clear to the Government that I would not support the measures as initially proposed.

Following endless hours of negotiations both myself and Independant TD Jackie Healy Ray succeeded in having the proposed income thresholds raised to a more realistic amount, that would cover the vast majority of our elderly.”

Thurles.Info: Q: But Michael in all honesty can this government be trusted, in light of recent events?

Michael: A: “I must admit there is currently a serious breakdown in trust between the Government and the people. However, after a meeting with the Minister for finance Brian Lenihan, I have sought, and expect  to receive a written commitment from the Government that the improved thresholds announced for the over 70s Medical Card scheme, will not only be maintained, but will be reviewed annually, taking into account cost of living increases for the future.

The past weeks have been a lesson for this FF government and they above all realise that they must do more to look at the consequences of the decisions they make.”

Thurles.Info: Q: Will the present benifits, e.g Free Travel etc presently enjoyed by those over 70 years old be taken into account in any future means test?  I think you will agree that there seems to be some confusion in this area.

Michael: A: “I expect to receive a firm and written commitment from Government today that current rules governing entitlement to free schemes for the elderly, such as the Free Travel, the Electricity/TV licence and Free Telephone Rental schemes, will continue in their present form, to all eligible applicants and for the duration of this government.The results expected today will decide my future action and I believe the last week has shown above all else the important role an independent member can play in bringing pressure on the government to change unfair and inequitable decisions. This role cannot be played outside of closed doors and away from the decision making arena.

I believe that I, as an independent, have a vitally important role in ensuring that the promises made over the past days are going to be delivered on. For this reason I will remain within the government framework to ensure that pensioners and others who are underprivileged members of our society, remain safeguarded and protected, as we go forward in this difficult time.”

Interview ends.

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1 comment to Lowry To Gain Further Reassurances After Budget U-Turn

  • No one can bring about change if they remove themselves from the decision making arena! One reaction to recent government events which I have found particularly infuriating, has been the recent trend of ministers & local councillors jumping from the ‘sinking ship’ in a thinly veiled effort to boost their public profile given that an election may be on the cards sooner rather than later! We voters won’t fall too easily for that “auld media trick”! I applaud your recent actions and hope that you will continue to remain inside the inner circle and take a hard line stance in all efforts to clean up the post-budget waste & mess!
    According to the CSO’s National Employment survey, Public Sector Workers enjoy average earnings which are 49% higher than the private sector. Public sector pay increased by 67% between 1999 & 2006 while in the euro area growth was only 22%. Under benchmarking we the employer were promised that public sector staff would co-operate with team working & cross-functional working to supersede traditional work demarcation. This does not happen!
    Lunch time opening for all public offices was also to be put into effect. Everyone knew this would lead to increased staff levels, higher pay bills and the overall poor customer service we tolerate today. It should also be noted that while public servants enjoy higher salaries they also enjoy over 15 different grades of flexible working hours obtained under the so called Family Friendly Working Environment practice. If small businesses operated this practice we would be back to 1930 in this country.
    Perhaps the government should be looking here for savings and certainly there would be no public outcry.
    A Dáil question: “How many days were lost to stress & other sick leave by each public service department so far this year?
    Congratulations on your stand!

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