Thousands and thousands of teachers, parents and students took to the streets last night in the biting cold and rain to protest against the education cutbacks contained in the Budget.
Inside Leinster House deputies were debating the Labour Party Private Members' Motion which seeks the reversal of the cuts.
Our Education Spokesperson Ruairi Quinn led the debate last night and you can see his contribution in the accompanying You Tube clip and read his speech in our media centre here. There are also a few photographs from the large protest on our Flickr photo stream and our poll asking if class sizes should be going down instead of up is still running; you can vote here.
As elderly people from all over the country prepared to descend upon Dublin to protest this afternoon at the Government changes to the medical card in the Budget, the issue was once again raised by the Labour Leader Eamon Gilmore TD during Leaders' Questions in the Dáil.
Eamon said: "Is it or is it not the case that the Minister for Health will be able to change the income levels announced yesterday for medical cards without coming back to the House. Is the Govt going to index link the new income limits or not?
Today has seen a spectacular stand-down by the Government on its proposal to abolish the automatic right to a medical card for the over 70s.
The Labour Leader Eamon Gilmore TD speaking about the decision said: "The announcement by the Taoiseach on revised criteria for eligibility of the over 70s represents a climb-down by a Government on a budgetary issue that is unprecedented in recent decades.
"It is a particular political humiliation for the Minister for Health, Mary Harney, who devised the scheme and the Minister for Finance who made it a central part of his first Budget."
Labour believes the Government should have scrapped the original proposal and stuck with the principle of universal access to medical cards for all those over 70.
There has been widespread anger at many of the severe cutbacks contained in this week's Budget and in particular over the Government decision to abolish the automatic entitlement to medical cards for the over 70s. What do you think? You can take part in our online poll and let us know more in the comments below.
Following yesterday's Budget, it is clear that the more vulnerable in our society will be hit hard in its aftermath. From the pensioners who will lose their medical cards, to the young school child who will be taught in classes which rank among the largest in Europe, to families who will have to find €1500 each year just to register their child to college. There are many more hard-hitting attacks which are just too numerous to mention here but you can read a list compiled by our Social and Family Affairs Spokesperson Roisin Shortall in our media centre.
The tax payer is being asked to pay up for a decade of Fianna Fail 'cute hoorism' was how the Labour Leader Eamon Gilmore described Budget 2009.
"This is a budget that mercilessly targeted middle-income families, protected the interests of the super-wealthy and failed to take any significant steps to protect the poor and the vulnerable in the face of the worst recession facing this country for decades.
"While inflicting the maximum possible pain on middle income, working families, Mr Lenihan has done little or nothing to ensure that the super wealthy, who have made vast fortunes over the past decade, make the contribution they should to economic recovery." Eamon's full statement is available in our media centre.
Budget 08 is overall a disappointing budget which has not lived up to the expectations particularly the Social Welfare and Tax packages. Increases in social welfare payments are way below the increases granted last year, while Child Benefit was raised by €6 a week, way below the rate of inflation.