The recent decision by the Irish Government to scrap the ‘Bereavement Grant’ has less than impressed those involved in the Funeral business in Ireland.
The 850 Euro grant was previously paid to families of the recently deceased to assist with funeral expenses. In an attempt to deflect from criticism of the grant’s abolition Ruairi Quinn, the Irish Education Minister, suggested that there is ‘insufficient competition’ in the funeral business in Ireland. Clearly he thinks that the cost of funerals is being inflated by the bereavement grant and thus has no problem disposing of it.
It is estimated that the cost of a Funeral in Ireland is about 5000 euro (just under 7000 US$). Welfare Minister Joan Burton pointed out that there is still a generous allowance in the event of the pensioner’s death:
“If one partner of a pensioner couple dies, their spouse continues to get the social welfare payment of the deceased spouse for six months. That is worth roughly 1,200 to 1,400 Euro.”
Apart from the Bereavement Grant the Telephone Allowance for Pensioners has also been scrapped while Welfare for those aged under 26 years has been reduced. The Fine Gael and Labour Party Government made much of the fact that they have not increased the rates of taxation in their most recent annual budgets. Nevertheless their tenure in office has seen a whole host of new ‘stealth’ taxes introduced in tandem with some pretty savage cuts to services.
These latest cutbacks are just one of a number of measures in the recent annual Budgets that have attempted to roll back some of the largesse offered to Irish citizens during the Celtic Tiger years.
Times are very different now.
With the country effectively bankrupt the last five years has seen some very severe so-called ‘austerity’ measures implemented by successive Irish Governments. It would be expected then that a people who enjoy their reputation as being ‘The Fighting Irish’ would hit back and hard.
Opposition from the Irish population has been relatively minimal. No Greek or French style riots. No imprisoning of Bankers and Government officials as happened in Iceland. The Irish have taken the economic downturn pretty much in their stride.