On a day that was as cold and dismal as something out of Dickens, Ireland's Parliament voted Tuesday to accept the severe austerity budget presented by Prime Minister Brian Cowen.
The vote was just the first in a series required to formally put in place the 2011 budget that plans to slash 15 billion euros from Ireland’s spending. Citizens contemplating a bleak future of cuts to social welfare programs, education, and unemployment also faced the prospect of a range of higher taxes. Another 2 billion euros are slated to be raised by tax adjustments that will hit not just those already taxed, but segments of the population hitherto exempt.
The Parliament’s mood was “resigned and subdued rather than angry and boisterous,” according to a comment in the Irish Times. The Irish Parliament’s opposition parties still spoke out against cuts that member after member criticized as endangering any future hope of prosperity. But the European Commission (EC) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved, signaling that Ireland’s rescue package should indeed go through on a vote later in the week.