In this week’s blog, Fr. Paddy comments on the Governments Budget 2011

This cold harsh winter, tells the story of very real suffering felt in the lives of so many in all our communities as a result of poverty. I recently called to visit a young couple late in the afternoon. Their home was freezing cold. They shared with me that they had ran out of oil and could not afford a refill till later that week. They spent most of their day by a fire which managed to keep one room in their house warm. Both are unemployed. They hope to emigrate to Australia in the New Year. This sadly, is an all too familiar story. A story, of disappointment, burden and poverty. A tragedy, where our most talented, educated and enthusiastic brains, are in their Tens of Thousands, being forced to seek opportunity in foreign lands.

The 2011 Budget was “Unjust, unfair and inequitable” and followed a failed model for development. This was the opinion following significant analysis given by Social Justice Ireland. The organisation, headed by Fr Sean Healy, said the claim made by finance Minister, Brian Lenihan, that the budget was progressive and had distributed the burden fairly was “patently untrue”

In a critique of the budget, in which cuts and tax increases amounted to Six Billion were made, it said the working poor, low income families, carers, the sick, people with disabilities, children and the unemployed were the ones who would “Take the hit”. Senior bond holders, the corporate sector and those who benefit from tax breaks that had not been removed would “escape”

Poor people are those most affected by Budget 2011. People on social welfare will see their poverty deepen. Irelands poorest have been condemned to penury by this Governments choices. I suggest that this budget is not progressive; in fact it is deeply unjust and unfair.

Social Justice Ireland said all the bondholders should share the burden of bank debt and negotiations with them were long over due. It also said, that there was a significantly greater potential for tax reform. While the budget had made some tax changes, the serious work of broadening the tax base had been left for future years and another government it said.

It is not by accident that Jesus was born into real poverty. The image of the crib continues to be relevant, especially to those most affected by poverty at this time. There was no room for the Saviour to be born in the conventional Inn. The Birth of Christ marked a radical embrace of Gods solidarity with those who are on the margins. God does not alleviate poverty, rather God became poor. Born into a place on the margins. These dark and very difficult days also carries an important and very inspiring invitation, an invitation that can bring us all into the light of Justice, equality and fairness. The Gospel is not just a Holy Book; its contents must disturb us greatly. “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light”.

May all who suffer and carry the cross of poverty, be inspired by the lowly Crib.