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Hannah Popham 

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Fianna Fail claims to have student interest at heart!

The opposition has called on the government to protect education services in the 2014 budget.

In a statement today Michael McGrath, Fianna Fáil and spokesperson for finance, stressed that education has been put at the heart of their 2014 budget proposal and that “it is possible to meet budgetary targets next year wi

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thout yet another hike in the student registration fee.”
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Mc Grath also criticised Minister for education Ruairi Quinn stating he “needs to learn from the mistakes he has made in the past. The last two budgets were highly regressive in the area of education. Students were hit with two further increases in the college registration fee by a Minister who promised to reverse fee hikes.  Post-graduate grants were abolished and the SUSI fiasco caused severe hardship to tens of thousands of students nationwide and now a €250 increase in the third level registration fee next year is to be introduced by this budget.”

Mr McGrath went on to say: “These highly damaging cuts are not necessary and they must stop.  There is no reason why education services cannot be protected in Budget 2014.  The government can choose to put a high value on education, and place it at the heart of their budget plan for next year.”

Ann-Marie Donelan

Free GP visits for the Under 5s

The Minister for Health, Dr. James Reilly, said he did “not want any parent to be in a position where they have to decide between buying the groceries and bringing their child to the doctor”, and this would be “another important step” along the road to universal health insurance. Where exactly will the money to fund this level of free care come from?

Today on the streets of Dublin found a variation in opinions on the matter as four out of five lower middle class parents of at least one child under the age of 5 agreed that this was a “great incentive”, “amazing” and “great news”. One woman stated “the doctor doesn’t do anything, most of time they just advise you give your child Calpol for 65 euro”.

A Fianna Fail health spokesman Billy Kelleher pointed out; on a salary of €86,000, he can well afford to pay. This appears to be a common concern on the streets of Dublin on budget day as one woman with a young baby said that “you should have to apply for it and that it needs to be means assessed rather than given away for nothing to those who can definitely afford it”. Two pensioners interviewed today on Henry Street said that everyone should be means tested and that lower income families should be the only ones entitled.

The Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) have reported concern as Kieran Ryan, CEO of the ICGP, said; “It is the policy of the ICGP to support mechanisms for provision of care where ability to pay is not a barrier.”  Image

Dr Darach O’Ciardha, GP and member of the ICGP Executive, continues in saying:  “In the current economic climate, we have to assume that if the Government is taking over the burden of paying for these services from the individual, then the money to pay for the provision of these services is coming from somewhere else in the health system. If paying for this is coming from the medical card scheme, without that pot being increased considerably, then other vulnerable groups will be affected most.  It would not be fair or reasonable that someone on a high salary, who can afford to pay for GP care for their child, would now get it for free, but that vulnerable people who need medical cards would lose them to pay for it.”

The ICGP calls on the Minister and the government to engage with GPs and other stakeholders without delay to discuss how this proposal to take over the cost of GP visits for Under 5s from the individual might work, the likely impact on population health, how much it is likely to cost and how it will be funded and how the services will be provided on the ground.

Lilah Gaafar

Youth Affected Worst

The National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) released a statement claiming that young people are the most affected in this year’s budget. The managing director, Mary Cunningham, accused the government of treating young people as a “soft target” by reducing the Jobseekers payments to €100 per week for under 25’s. “We need to work to provide more opportunities for these young people, not cut their supports. We are urging the Government to reconsider these proposed cuts in social welfare payments to young, unemployed people,” said Mary Cunningham.

Lauren O’Halleron