As Europe continues its slow climb out of the Eurozone Crisis that has beleaguered many of the continent's nations the specter of austerity is still felt among the young, pensioned and poor. This week Ireland announced further austerity cuts of two and a half billion dollars despite the country's economic growth holding steady at 2.7%.
The first to feel the affects of this cut will be the pensioners. This is a gamble for the ruling party in Ireland as these are the people most likely to get out and vote in elections. Many over the age of seventy will see their savings taxed at over 41% higher than before, subsidies to pay senior phone bills and funeral costs will be scrapped and some will lose healthcare coverage.
On the other end of the age spectrum, Irish youth will find it increasingly difficult to find work. Job seeker allowances will be slashed by roughly a third and and the eligibility for social payments will be extended to the age of twenty-six.
Additional cuts will be seen as the price of cigarettes will rise 10¢ and increased duties and taxes on alcohol such as 50¢ extra per bottle of wine.
These cuts are dangerous for a number of social reasons. The government is putting the squeeze on two dangerous groups to upset. The pensioners have the voter turn out to bring regime change in elections and the youth have the volatility to destabilize the society. Similar to my blogs on the rise of violence and fascism in Greece in the wake of austerity, Ireland could see a similar scenario. Although Ireland is not in as dire straits as Greece the country is only just finding its feet after years of violence between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland. With youth struggling to find work in Ireland it is more likely they could turn to deviant behavior to bring about change. Often times what starts as protest against the system can become hijacked by more extremist factions (as seen in the battle in Seattle video we saw in class). In a region that has struggled with religious violence for hundreds of years Ireland could see old fault lines reappear in the wake of austerity.