Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Cardinal Schonborn visit to Medjugorje a historic moment and turning point

Visionary Marija meets Cardinal. Photograph:Medjugorje©

The Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Christoph Schonborn arrived on Monday for his private visit to Medjugorje and will remain there for several days. He had come because he had seen so many positive fruits and wanted to learn about the pastoral care of the Mother of God, which was experienced in Medjugorje. He also wished to visit the Community Cenacolo, was founded by the Italian nun, Sr. Elvira Petrozzi. Sr Elvira was concerned by the destruction she saw among young people through drug abuse and she felt called by God to help them. On Monday he had spent time in Adoration and then some time at the back of the church in prayer.
As he left the church, the cardinal is reported to have said: “Who could make these things up? Who could invent this thing? Man? No, this is not a human opera.”

This morning, in Medjugorje, Cardinal Schönborn celebrated the 9am Mass for German-speaking pilgrims. He climbed Apparition Hill with visionary Marija Lunetti and other pilgrims, prayed in silence at Adoration, and, gave a talk today about the divine mercy in the parish church with the Franciscan friars at his side.


According to Crown of Stars Blog in his talk today

His first words as he stepped to the podium were “Hvaljen Isus i Marija,” a Croatian phrase that means “Praised be Jesus and Mary.” This is a common greeting among the visionaries and Medjugorje villagers. The cardinal repeated it several times and urged the crowd to repeat it with him.

He went on to say, “When you look at a place like Medjugorje, you can see a superpower of mercy. Many merciful deeds were born here or they were supported here.”

During one poignant moment of his talk, Cardinal Schönborn urged the crowd to stand and join him in singing the well-known Medjugorje song Gospa Majka Moja. He smiled warmly as he sang along.
It was as confirmed that the Cardinal would be the main celebrant of the mass at midnight at New Year and at Mass on the first of January.
The Cardinal's visit is a seminal moment in the history of Medjugorje. He clearly has no doubt about the authenticity of the visions. The visionary Marija Pavlovic-Lunetti visited St Stephens Cathedral Vienna last September and in the presence of the Cardinal spoke about Medjugorje. Cardinal Schönborn certainly would not have visited Medjugorje against the wishes of Pope Benedict. The Church appears to be moving towards recognition.

Video: Jakov Annual Apparition in Medjugorje December 25, 2009

Visionary Jakov Colo experiences his annual apparition of the Virgin Mary on Christmas day in Medjugorje.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Video of Urbi et Orbi -December 25, 2009

Text Of Urbi et Orbi Message of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI December 25, 2009

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Rome and throughout the world, and all men and women, whom the Lord loves!
“Lux fulgebit hodie super nos,
quia natus est nobis Dominus.
A light will shine on us this day,
the Lord is born for us”
(Roman Missal, Christmas, Entrance Antiphon for the Mass at Dawn),
The liturgy of the Mass at Dawn reminded us that the night is now past, the day has begun; the light radiating from the cave of Bethlehem shines upon us.

The Bible and the Liturgy do not, however, speak to us about a natural light, but a different, special light, which is somehow directed to and focused upon “us”, the same “us” for whom the Child of Bethlehem “is born”. This “us” is the Church, the great universal family of those who believe in Christ, who have awaited in hope the new birth of the Saviour, and who today celebrate in mystery the perennial significance of this event.

At first, beside the manger in Bethlehem, that “us” was almost imperceptible to human eyes. As the Gospel of Saint Luke recounts, it included, in addition to Mary and Joseph, a few lowly shepherds who came to the cave after hearing the message of the Angels. The light of that first Christmas was like a fire kindled in the night. All about there was darkness, while in the cave there shone the true light “that enlightens every man” (Jn 1:9). And yet all this took place in simplicity and hiddenness, in the way that God works in all of salvation history. God loves to light little lights, so as then to illuminate vast spaces. Truth, and Love, which are its content, are kindled wherever the light is welcomed; they then radiate in concentric circles, as if by contact, in the hearts and minds of all those who, by opening themselves freely to its splendour, themselves become sources of light. Such is the history of the Church: she began her journey in the lowly cave of Bethlehem, and down the centuries she has become a People and a source of light for humanity. Today too, in those who encounter that Child, God still kindles fires in the night of the world, calling men and women everywhere to acknowledge in Jesus the “sign” of his saving and liberating presence and to extend the “us” of those who believe in Christ to the whole of mankind.

Wherever there is an “us” which welcomes God’s love, there the light of Christ shines forth, even in the most difficult situations. The Church, like the Virgin Mary, offers the world Jesus, the Son, whom she herself has received as a gift, the One who came to set mankind free from the slavery of sin. Like Mary, the Church does not fear, for that Child is her strength. But she does not keep him for herself: she offers him to all those who seek him with a sincere heart, to the earth’s lowly and afflicted, to the victims of violence, and to all who yearn for peace. Today too, on behalf of a human family profoundly affected by a grave financial crisis, yet even more by a moral crisis, and by the painful wounds of wars and conflicts, the Church, in faithful solidarity with mankind, repeats with the shepherds: “Let us go to Bethlehem” (Lk 2:15), for there we shall find our hope.

The “us” of the Church is alive in the place where Jesus was born, in the Holy Land, inviting its people to abandon every logic of violence and vengeance, and to engage with renewed vigour and generosity in the process which leads to peaceful coexistence. The “us” of the Church is present in the other countries of the Middle East. How can we forget the troubled situation in Iraq and the “little flock” of Christians which lives in the region? At times it is subject to violence and injustice, but it remains determined to make its own contribution to the building of a society opposed to the logic of conflict and the rejection of one’s neighbour. The “us” of the Church is active in Sri Lanka, in the Korean peninsula and in the Philippines, as well as in the other countries of Asia, as a leaven of reconciliation and peace. On the continent of Africa she does not cease to lift her voice to God, imploring an end to every injustice in the Democratic Republic of Congo; she invites the citizens of Guinea and Niger to respect for the rights of every person and to dialogue; she begs those of Madagascar to overcome their internal divisions and to be mutually accepting; and she reminds all men and women that they are called to hope, despite the tragedies, trials and difficulties which still afflict them. In Europe and North America, the “us” of the Church urges people to leave behind the selfish and technicist mentality, to advance the common good and to show respect for the persons who are most defenceless, starting with the unborn. In Honduras she is assisting in process of rebuilding institutions; throughout Latin America, the “us” of the Church is a source of identity, a fullness of truth and of charity which no ideology can replace, a summons to respect for the inalienable rights of each person and his or her integral development, a proclamation of justice and fraternity, a source of unity.

In fidelity to the mandate of her Founder, the Church shows solidarity with the victims of natural disasters and poverty, even within opulent societies. In the face of the exodus of all those who migrate from their homelands and are driven away by hunger, intolerance or environmental degradation, the Church is a presence calling others to an attitude of acceptance and welcome. In a word, the Church everywhere proclaims the Gospel of Christ, despite persecutions, discriminations, attacks and at times hostile indifference. These, in fact, enable her to share the lot of her Master and Lord.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, how great a gift it is to be part of a communion which is open to everyone! It is the communion of the Most Holy Trinity, from whose heart Emmanuel, Jesus, “God with us”, came into the world. Like the shepherds of Bethlehem, let us contemplate, filled with wonder and gratitude, this mystery of love and light! Happy Christmas to all!(Vatican Radio)

The First Noel sung by Mario Lanza

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Song Video: Heaven's Child sung by Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers

Video: Stupak- Obama Admin Bullying Me to Accept Abortion Funding in Health Care

In this video pro-life Democrat Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) describes how the Obama Administration is bullying him to accept Abortion Funding in Health Care. Stupak told CNS News that the White House and top Congressional Democrats are attempting to twist his arm to accept the Reid-Nelson "compromise" language that still allows massive taxpayer financing of abortions.

Stupak told CNS News Tuesday
They think I shouldn't be expressing my views on this bill until they get a chance to try to sell me the language.

Well, I don't need anyone to sell me the language. I can read it. I've seen it. I've worked with it. I know what it says. I don't need to have a conference with the White House. I have the legislation in front of me here.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Iran:Video-Crowds Protesting Against Ahmadinejad at Montazeri's Funeral - Dec. 21, 2009

Tens of thousands of people chanted anti-government slogans Monday before the funeral of a top Iranian cleric-Grand Ayatollah Hussein Ali Montazeri -who was one of the regime's most vocal critics.
They shouted "death to the dictator!" outside the home of senior Iranian dissident Grand Ayatollah Hussein Ali Montazeri, who died early Sunday. He was 87. He declared that the presidential elections held last June and which returned hard-liner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the presidency, were a fraud.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Spineless Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson Sells Out the Unborn in Shameful U-Turn on Abortion

Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska stated today that he will become the pivotal 60th vote that Democrats need to pass a government-run health care bill. He had promised not to support taxpayer-funded abortion. Unfortunately today he guaranteed support for a bill, which will provide taxpayer-funded abortion. In short he has sold out on the unborn. His support for the bill ensures an explosion in the abortion rate.

Nelson declared his support for the state-run health care bill at a press conference Saturday morning after he reached a deal with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on abortion and other unrelated issues. As part of the deal to win Sen. Ben Nelson’s support, the federal government will fund Nebraska’s new Medicaid recipients. It’s a provision worth about $45 million over the first decade.” (Chris Frates, “Ben Nelson’s Medicaid deal,” Politico, 12/19/09). Two pro-abortion senators Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat, and Patty Murray, a Washington Democrat praised the compromise. This is proof positive that the deal is inimical to the interests of the unborn.
This is a shameful u-turn by Nelson on abortion
. He now joins Sen Robert Casey Jnr in support for the bill. The late Governor Robert Casey, Senior said

Nothing could be more foreign to the American experience than legalized abortion. It is inconsistent with our national character, with our national purpose, with all that we've done, and with everything we hope to be.

Sadly Sen Robert Casey Jnr has dishonoured his late father's memory. Not one Democrat Senator had the political backbone to stand by the unborn. Not one Democrat Senator is prepared to stand by the Law of God. The Democrat Party supports the culture of death. It has taken the side of Satan.
Casey and Nelson are political hypocrites who claim to suport the unborn but who by their votes will ensure an explosion in the abortion rate.

The abortion "compromise" does NOT contain languages similar to the Stupak amendment approved by the House which restricted government funding of abortion. Instead, the compromise allows states to opt out of providing abortion coverage through the exchange and adds further layers of accounting requirements. Unfortunately, the citizens of any state that "optsout" will not be exempt from paying federal taxes --which will be used to fund the plans that do cover abortions in other states.The bottom line: contrary to longstanding policy, the federal government will be forcing YOU to subsidize private health insurance plans that cover abortion --resulting in the largest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade (StopTheAbortionMandate)

LifeNews.Com carries the following:
The new compromise does not ban abortion funding but merely allows states that don't want to force taxpayers to fund abortions to opt out of doing so. Otherwise, taxpayers would still be forced to finance abortions with government funds.

Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, issued a statement blasting the Nelson-Reid proposal.

“No back room deal can change the fact that this is a fatally flawed bill. Make no mistake about it, the Reid bill will allow federal tax dollars to be used to fund abortions," he said in a statement sent to

“It is extremely disappointing that so many Democrats have chosen the wrong side of history and put politics over the will of the American people. My colleagues and I will continue to do all that we can to ensure the American people have enough time to know what is in this bill, and we will do everything in our power to stop it,” Cornyn, who is pro-life, added.

Sen. Tom Coburn, a pro-life doctor and Republican, agrees.

He said it is “absolutely fictitious” that the Nelson-Reid language bans abortion funding.

“The negotiations, whoever did them, threw unborn babies under the bus,” Coburn said, according to a report in The Hill.

“The abortion language in this bill funds abortion for the first time since 1977,” added Sen. Sam Brownback, a Kansas Republican. “We are told this is a pro-life bill. It is not.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, noted that he stood by himself on Saturday to announce the compromise.

“He couldn’t find one group to stand by him and validate what he was saying,” Graham said.... Continue Reading

Video:Senator Ben Nelson Opposes Obamacare

Ring Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska at (402) 391-3411. Tell him to continue to oppose Obamacare which includes taxpayer funded abortion.

Vine a Adorarte sung by Marcela Gandara and Marco Chavira

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Stop The Abortion Mandate Webcast Replay -15/12/09

The dynamic presenters included:

* SEN. MIKE JOHANNS, U.S. Senator from Nebraska
* CHARMAINE YOEST, Americans United for Life
* TONY PERKINS, Family Research Council
* KRISTAN HAWKINS, Students for Life of America
* DAVID BEREIT, 40 Days for Life
* WENDY WRIGHT, Concerned Women for America
* DOUGLAS JOHNSON, National Right to Life Committee
* KRISTEN DAY, Democrats for Life
* ABBY JOHNSON, Former Planned Parenthood director

The Senate health care reform bill -- which is on the verge of being passed into law -- would result in a MASSIVE government-funded bailout of the abortion industry and the largest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade!
To respond swiftly to this crisis, the 70+ pro-life and pro-family organizations that make up the Stop the Abortion Mandate Coalition joined together on TUESDAY NIGHT, December 15 on a huge nationwide webcast.

Tell Congress: “Remove abortion funding and mandates from health care reform!”


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Video: Sen Robert Casey Jnr - Please Vote NO on any health care bill that funds Abortion

Will Robert Casey, Junior stand for God on Abortion Issue?

In a landmark speech, the late Governor Robert Casey, Senior said Nothing could be more foreign to the American experience than legalized abortion. It is inconsistent with our national character, with our national purpose, with all that weve done, and with everything we hope to be.

But right now, Robert Casey, Junior is poised to vote in the Senate for a health care bill with federal funding for abortion. The bill will result in more abortions—abortions that Americans will be required to finance. Senator Casey, trading the lives of unborn children for a health care bill is inconsistent with our American character.

The abortion debate is not about how we shall live, but who shall live. And more than that, its about who we are. Contact Bob Casey, Junior today and tell him to vote NO on any health care bill that funds abortion. Susan B. Anthony List

Monday, December 14, 2009

Ireland: Stealth Tax in Budget 2009/2010 to hit pay in 2010

The Sunday Times carries the following:

Stealth tax will hit pay in 2010-workers will suffer a reduction in earnings next year, writes Niall Brady

Taxpayers will pay more in income levies next year despite Brian Lenihan's assurances that there were no tax hikes in last week's budget. The increases ,overlooked in the post-budget analysis, mean for example, an extra levy of €247 on an income of €75,000 next year, €500 on earnings of €100,000, and €665 more on an income of €125,000.. The hidden taxes are an added blow to families,who will lose €84m in child benefit payments as a result of the budget, and for public servants,whose pay will be cut by more than €1billion in 2010... Jim Ryan, a tax partner at accountants Ernst and Young said:"To say that taxpayers will pay the same amount in 2010 as this year is incorrect. They wont notice it happening because their pay cheques in January will be the same as in December. Take-home pay for the year as a whole,though,will be lower than in 2009 because of an average increase of 15% in the income levy. ...

Video: Newfoundland's Joan Morrissey sings Mobile Goat

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Video: Italy-Silvio Berlusconi Punched in the Face (13/12/09)

An attacker hurled a statuette at Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, striking the leader in the face at the end of a rally leaving the stunned 73-year-old leader with a bloodied mouth, police said. The suspect was immediately taken into custody. (Dec. 13)

Ireland: Labour MEPs vote against amendment to prevent EU Funding of Abortion in the Third World

Labour MEPs Nessa Childers, Alan Kelly, Proinsias de Rossa and Independent, Joe Higgins were among the MEPs who voted against the adoption of amendment 733 to Title 21 (Development and relations with African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) States) in the European Union budget last October. It was defeated by 305 votes to 316. All other Irish MEPs voted in favour of the unborn. The defeated proposal sought to prevent EU aid funds from going to big agencies involved in forced sterilisation, forced abortion and infanticide, the killing of newborn children. This amendment stated:

(the European Parliament) “Stresses that Community assistance should not be given to any authority, organization or programme which supports or participates in the management of an action which involves such human rights abuses as coercive abortion, involuntary sterilization or infanticide, especially where such action apply their priorities through psychological, social, economic or legal pressure, thus finally implementing the specific Cairo ICPD prohibition on coercion or compulsion in sexual and reproductive health matters; calls on the Commission to present a report on the implementation of the EU’s external assistance covering this programme.”

Earlier this year both Childers and Kelly assured voters that they would not support abortion if elected to Europe. They have questions to answer.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Ireland Budget 09-10 Blitzes Public Service and Social Welfare Payments- Domestic Water Rates and Rates on the way

Full details of the Budget are available here with Summary: Beneath Comment.


This Budget is strongly deflationary. The Government over the past 18 months has made budgetary adjustments of more than €8 billion for this year.
The budget will take another €3.8 billion out of the economy. Whilst it is undeniable that a further €4 billion in adjustments was required, the campaign to prepare public opinion -to accept harsh medicine- was ugly, petty and vindictive.

It particularly targeted Public Servants and Social Welfare. Public Servants will feel strongly aggrieved. They have been targeted for savage pay cuts. These latest are in addition to the 7% pension levy and other levies previously introduced. Indeed public servants have been subjected to a campaign of demonisation in recent months. Much of it bordered on incitement to hatred. They were attacked for having a job as private sector unemployment rose sharply. The government, builders and bankers contributed to this appalling financial mess. Whilst is it only fair to say that the international banking crisis was a contributory factor to Ireland's problems on balance most of the problems were domestically generated. There has been a sustained campaign to deflect blame from the real culprits onto public servants. It has weakened social cohesion. In short it is playing with fire. The decision to cut 5% for public servants earning up to €30,000 of salary is political dynamite. The FG alternative Budget here provided a far more equitable solution. It exempted public servants earning up to €30,000 from pay cuts yet has a far more coherent set of proposals.

There is an assumption that 3 billion in cuts can be expected in next year's budget including a further €2 billion in current spending. Somehow I expect that it may be more. In addition no mention has been made of the banks which will require further injections from the exchequer in 2010. Expect a new anti public servant campaign to start as 2010 progresses. This will prepare the way for more pay cuts and redundancies. This has the potential to trigger massive disruption.
Much has been made of the fact that the OAP was not cut in the Budget. The failure to pay the Christmas bonus to OAPs amounts to a cut of 2%

Budget Summary

•Social welfare payments will be reduced by 4.1% except for OAPs. No Christmas bonus.
•Child benefit will be reduced by €16 per month (welfare-dependent families not affected)
•Jobseekers' Allowance will be reduced to €100 a week for those aged 20 and 21 with no children, and to €150 for those aged between 22 and 24 and in cases where job offers have been refused
•Plans to introduce domestic water rates and rates on houses.
•Tiered pay cuts for public servants - 5% on the first €30,000 of salary, 7.5% reduction on the next €40,000 and 10% on the next €55,000 of salary
•Public servants' pensions will be linked to average salary across career, rather than final salary (for all new entrants to the public service from 2010 onwards)
•VAT rate reduced - 21.5% rate dropped to 21%
•Excise duty on alcohol reduced - 12c cut on beer and cider, 14c cut on a measure of spirits, 60c cut on a bottle of wine
•No change to tobacco tax
•50c charge for every medical card prescription from April
•Carbon tax of €15 per tonne - petrol to go up by 4.2c from midnight, and diesel up by 4.9c.
•Hospital consultants will see their pay cut by up to 15%
•People with a certain level of assets at home and abroad will have to pay €200,000 per year to maintain their Irish passport
•New 'universal social contribution', which will replace employee PRSI, the Health Levy and the Income Levy
•Taoiseach's salary to be reduced by 20%
•Mortgage interest relief - Extended to 2018 for those who now find themselves in negative equity. Abolition of Mortgage interest relief entirely by end 2017.
•Flood relief - More than €70m to be given to help victims and stop future floods
•National Solidarity Bond aimed at small investors to be launched
•Discounted rail vouchers to be given to senior citizen tourists to Ireland
•Scrappage scheme announced - Get around €1,500 off your Vehicle Registration Tax on a new low-emission car, if you trade in a car at least 10 years old
•The minimum pension age for new public servants will be increased from 65 to 66 - then linked to increases in the State pension age.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Obama Again Breaks No Abortion Funding Pledge

Pro abortion extremist Barack Obama has once more broken a no abortion funding pledge. Obama promised in a national speech in September that "my" health care plan would not include taxpayer funding of abortion. Obama broke that pledge once by lobbying members of the House to support a pro-abortion funding bill and he did it again this weekend in the Senate.
According to LifeNews
Obama met with Senate Democrats in a closed door session on Sunday and told them to support the Harry Reid-sponsored bill that includes massive abortion funding and could force insurance companies to cover abortions with taxpayer's premiums.
Although the media wasn't allowed into the event, senators described the speech as one in which Obama asked them for their votes for the bill and said voting for the legislation was a historic opportunity.

A critical pro-life amendment banning federal funds from paying for elective abortions and plans that cover elective abortions has just been filed for a vote in the Senate.

This bipartisan amendment is sponsored by Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE), Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and Senator Bob Casey (D-PA).

It is absolutely critical that you call your Senators and ask them to vote for the Nelson-Hatch-Casey Amendment.

Call Capitol Switchboard: (202) 224-3121 and ask for the senior Senator for your state.

Call Capitol Switchboard: (202) 224-3121 and ask for the junior Senator for your state

Here is what you need to tell your Senators:

-- A November CNN poll found that 61% Americans of Americans reject abortion funding and only 37% believe it is acceptable

-- It is a violation of the consciences of the taxpayers to force us to fund elective abortions or plans that cover elective abortions.

-- The amendment merely applies the longstanding policy of the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal dollars from paying for elective abortions or plans that cover elective abortions.

-- Vote yes on the Nelson-Hatch-Casey Amendment.

Video: Mirjana Apparition Medjugorje December 2, 2009

The apparition happened at home. Because of wind and rain it was not possible to go to the Blue Cross

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Videos: South Eastern Ireland Newfoundland Connection

The Waterford Newfoundland Link

Newfoundland is the most Irish place outside of Ireland.“An Bóithrín Glas: Talamh an Éisc” documentary produced for RTE in 1999 explains how the Irish settled in Newfoundland, influenced the local customs and supported the Waterford economy. Most came from within a 30km radius of Waterford city. They came mainly from Waterford, South Tipperary, Kilkenny and Wexford. Passage East in Waterford Harbour was the final stop before they reached St. Johns in Newfoundland.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Video: Liam Clancy sings Farewell

Sadly December 4, 2009 saw the death of a great Irish man and an exceptional ballad singer. Bob Dylan regarded him as "greatest ballad singer" of all time. Farewell Liam. You will never be forgotten. Leaba i measc na naomh go raibh agat.

Friday, December 4, 2009

FG Alternative Budget Proposals December 4, 2009

FG Alternative Budget Proposals 09

The Fine Gael ’Jobs Budget’ would take 50,000 people off the Live Register in 2010 and more than 175,000 by 2013. The Fine Gael plan is driven by a determination to get people off dole queues and back to work, to improve our competitiveness and to correct the fiscal crisis in a fair and balanced manner.
Jobs are the focus of Fine Gael’s Budget perspective for 2010. We have to fix our budgetary crisis in a fair and balanced way and we have to restore our competitiveness as a nation, but the top priority for Fine Gael is to get our country back to work. If we don’t get our people back to work we won’t fix our budgetary crisis – it’s as simple as that. That is why Fine Gael has relentlessly pursued pro jobs policies over the last 12 months culminating in the policies and proposals announced in the run-up to this Budget.
Fine Gael’s Budget proposals would see 50,000 people taken off the Live Register in 2010 and 175,000 by 2013. This is based on a combination of the impact of:
• A major cut in the jobs tax (PRSI on employment);
• The roll out of our €18bn NewERA stimulus plan;
• Targeted youth unemployment initiatives;
• Abolition of the airport tax;
• Reversal of the recent VAT increase and short term reduction in the 13.5% VAT rate to 10%.
Fine Gael faces up to the challenge of correcting the crisis in our national finances by making tough choices to generate a net deficit reduction of €4bn whilst allowing for the above pro jobs proposals.
The €4bn in deficit reduction for 2010 under the Fine Gael plan is broken down broadly as follows:

€4bn Deficit Reduction Summary

Reduction in public sector pay bill through pay cuts and redundancies; €1.7bn
(€1.2bn payroll cuts + €500m redundancies)
Reduction in current spending programmes; €1.1bn
Reduction in social welfare costs (net of job activation measures) €0.4bn
Tax broadening (net of jobs stimulus package) €0.4bn
Transfer of Capital Spending to NewERA €0.5bn
(*numbers rounded to first decimal place)

Public Sector Pay Bill

Fine Gael have identified €1.7bn that can be saved from the public sector pay bill in 2010 through a combination of freezing of increments, graduated reductions above earnings of €30,000, local payroll savings of 2% and through 10,000 redundancies.The reduction in pay only affects those earning more than €30,000 and only applies to that income earned ABOVE that limit.On the basis of Fine Gael’s plans the effect on incomes would be as follows:

Income Reduction %(after tax)Reduction %(Before tax)
€40,000 0.7% 1.3%
€220,0006.5% 13.9%

Social Welfare

Net of job activation measures Fine Gael envisage a saving of the order of €400m in the Social Welfare Budget. Fine Gael does not propose any cuts to the Old Age Pension nor does it propose any cuts in the Child Benefit Allowance. Given the reduction in the consumer price index we do see scope for a 3% cut to adult working age payments, excluding carers, the disabled and the blind. In addition, we are proposing a weekly €50 cut for under 25s that refuse offers of work or training after six months on the dole. These measures would raise €257 million in one year.

Current Spending

There is huge scope to reduce or eliminate ineffective programmes or agencies that are not delivering for the taxpayer. We envisage savings of the order of €1.1bn in this area.

The primary drivers of these savings will be;

• Cutting back on the BIG bureaucracies like HSE, FÁS and CIE: €386m
• Eliminating or merging 150 quangos: €88m
• Cutting payments of professionals + 3rd party procurement savings: €431m
• Programme reductions (McCarthy Report): €199m

Wasteful spending on programmes and bodies that don’t deliver are the scourge of the taxpayer. It was unacceptable when our finances were in a healthy condition, it is bordering on criminal to waste such money when vital frontline services are under threat.

Fine Gael is determined to provide an alternative approach to the failed policies of high taxation and frontline service cuts of the last two budgets. We are focused on job protection and job creation and will continue to seek ways to support business, give job seekers some hope and always look to protect those most vulnerable in our society who rely on the State for support.

Fairness has been at the core of our approach to the Budget, getting our country back to work its ultimate objective.

The presentation can be accessed here
The financial breakdown can be accessed here
Download Adobe Reader here

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Video:Procol Harum - Homburg 1967 with Lyrics

Homburg was Procol Harum's follow-up single to their 1967 hit "A Whiter Shade of Pale". It was written by pianist Gary Brooker and lyricist Keith Reid. "Homburg" reached number five in the UK charts.The B side of the single is "Good Captain Clack" which was taken from the album Procol Harum

Video: Crash Test Dummies-Winter Song with Lark Harbour Newfoundland

A scenic drive though Lark Harbour Newfoundland. Music by Crash Test Dummies, "Winter Song."