The auld ones were rioting. well, as much as a person confined to a wheelchair could be said to be disruptive. Don't change the rules on medical cards for the over 70 set, they demanded. No means testing. No altering what is in place.
The students were marching. Don't increase the number of pupils per class. Don't tack on fees for the third level set.
In other words, don't cut us, make the cuts on someone else.
Money is in short supply in Dublin, and the government cannot continue as if the Celtic Tiger were roaring down Grafton Street with an unlimited credit account. Changes have to be made, but no one wants to be made to take a hit.
No matter what is proposed, the Opposition proclaims that the action will result in grave damages, as if the money can just keep getting spent when it isn't there. So what if your granny has the financial means to pay for her own health card? The government was giving them away before, and now that she's reached 70, it's her turn for the free one.
Where's mine becomes the mantra, but without funding, there's a chance that the Christmas bonus for social welfare recipients might not turn up in the post this year. It means that taxes have to be increased, because maintaining the same level of spending calls for the same level of tax income.
Hand-outs are the order of the day, the accustomed style of living in Ireland. Now that the cost of those hand-outs is proving ruinous, the politicians have no choice but to cut and then be voted out of office at the next election, or raise taxes and find someone else to blame.
Raising taxes is easier, in the short term, because the economy will die a slow death and the average voter won't realize what happened. But the over-70's will have their free health care.
The problem wouldn't exist if the government hadn't started handing out little gifts in the first place.