A SENIOR figure in the Green Party has warned of "revolution" if the recommendations in the Bord Snip Nua report are implemented.
Speaking at yesterday's Green Party members' convention in Dublin, former councillor and mayor of Galway Niall ó Brolcháin was critical of the severity of the proposed cuts in Colm McCarthy's report.
"I have had a very good look through it and if this country implements this document we are going nowhere. It gives a lot of useful information but politically we have got to go through it with a fine toothcomb because realistically if we are to implement that, I think, we are talking about revolution in the country," he said.
"I think we need to use it as a useful document to give us some ideas but that is all it is as far as I am concerned. The other side of it is that we need to get people back to work and get our whole country back on track."
The Sunday Tribune spoke to members of the Green Party about the McCarthy report as they arrived for yesterday's conference in Dublin. Many were strongly critical, suggesting that their ministers will not have great support for implementing it in government. Pauline O'Shea from Dublin said she was concerned about the cuts to social welfare payments. She said: "The cuts in social welfare are not tenable. They are just not doable. We have to protect people.
"This report ignores Green policies completely. We have very strong policies on protecting the vulnerable and weak. If you look at our policies you will see that they are quite social in nature and while we do have to tackle the debt there are many wealthy people in this country who are being let away.
"By the same token, the introduction of college fees is socially exclusive. Women who want to go back to their studies after they have reared their children cannot do that as they have to worry about paying their children's fees. Children from poorer families just cannot contemplate taking on what amounts to a lifetime of debt."
Former Green councillor Tom Kivlehan, from Ballybrack in south Dublin, was more positive about the Bord Snip Nua report.
He said: "There are some interesting points in it and others that are going to be more difficult to deal with – but we are going to have to make changes in this country.
"We went through a period
there where money was no object and we expanded our services at a rate that could not be sustainable so we have to get back to reality.
"We cannot run services at that level because we don't have the economy to provide them so we have to start looking at what we can and cannot provide.
"I am largely in favour of the broad general terms of that report but there are certain issues within that report that I have problems with. There are certain areas that have been ignored that can be touched too.
"It's a plan to start with. Certain things will be added in and others will be discounted but we do need to rectify the financial position of this country."
Another critic of the report was party member Rick Caldecott who said: "There are smart ways of doing things to save money as well as wholesale cuts. If there is a reflection on the smart ways of saving money, including the way we do things now, we will not need to go butchering the working-class."
His wife Elizabeth added: "I think that it is a blueprint. It is not necessarily going to happen but at least it shows us where there are possibilities."
Recent local election candidate in Monaghan, Michael Connolly said: "The focus of the report seems to be on the bottom half of our society. The first cut last October was to Combat Poverty and An Bord Snip Nua appears to have picked up on that agenda and driven it forward by attacking the most vulnerable."
Meanwhile Green Party leader John Gormley said: "The Bord Snip Nua report is a vast report with a menu of proposals and, for that reason, it needs to be digested and looked at in quite a bit of detail in parallel with the publication of the Commission on Taxation report.
"It presents us in government with very difficult, painful and unpalatable choices… we know some aspects of the report are highly unpalatable for the members. We are always guided by party members and my message to the members is that the future of the party is in their hands."