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The Farmers and Children

As predictable as it is to see kites being flown on a sandy beach in August, so too is it to read and hear of the metaphorical ones being flown by ministers on their summer holidays. The past fortnight there has been two contentious issues hitting the public domain, those being, grants for farmers for 3rd level education for their children and means testing child benefit.

The debate around the two issues has made me question the intelligence and selfishness of our society. It seems to me, that as a group, our society is all for making sacrifices and contributing, that is of course as long as it doesn't affect "our lot". It has also displayed in abundance, yet again, a fundamental flaw within our society, and more importantly, within our political establishment. If the Quinn saga was not enough to illustrate gombeen, parochial politics at its best, Simon Coveney and Michelle Mulheirn's intervention or cross kite flying certainly brought it home to roost.

I, an Irish citizen, am sick and tired of politicans looking after their own, regardless of the consequences for the rest of society. My parents were never rich, two public servants (a teacher and a nurse), yet they could not avail of a grant to send their children to college, we got no free dental care or medical treatment, yet Simon and Michelle think its ok to stand in front of a camera and vehemently oppose including farmers assets in their proposals for college grants. I am not for one second claiming farmers struggling should not get assistance, but I am quite certain the farmers Simon knows wouldn't fit in that bracket. Why should a farmer with 100's of hectares of land worth tens of millions be afforded a grant, at a time when farmers have never been doing better, whilst children in middle and lower class backgrounds get nothing? It beggars belief that this is the stance of a responsible adult or even coming from two politicians centrally involved in the political movement behind cutting special needs assistants. 

Secondly, I cannot for the life of me understand peoples opposition to means testing child benefit. I understand the ideological stance of some of those opposed to it - ie. Every child must be treated equally etc, however that ideological theory just doesn't stack up. Firstly, lest anyone forget, the money is not handed to child on a school yard, it is given to the parents with the moral belief it is to be used on the child. Secondly how can anyone suggest that the children of Michael O Leary or any other such multi millionaire should get the same given to their parents for assistance in raising that child as the child of two unemployed parents who can't feed their own family. Two parents walk into a post office, one pulls up outside the door in a Rolls Royce, the other walks to the post office with no soles on their shoes, both get the same for their children at home, it's a ludicrous concept and needs to stop. 

The fact remains that we are borrowing €55 million a day and any sort of social protection, grants or assistance needs to be targeted at those who actually need it and not those who it's "handy" for. I would ask all politicians to cop on and realise the hardship people are experiencing before jumping to the defence of those who need it least!


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