Page last updated at 10:06 GMT, Thursday, 5 November 2009

President cuts her personal cloth

Mary McAleese
The President said she will be cutting back on her household budget

With her country facing what some are describing as its worst ever economic crisis, the President of Ireland has shown that she is not immune to the chill wind of cutbacks.

With many households around the country desperately trying to reduce outgoings, Mary McAleese has announced that she too plans to reduce her household allowance - by 12.5%.

Speaking to RTE Radio's Morning Ireland to mark its 25th anniversary, she said she would find the savings by making sure her home, Aras an Uachtarain, gets the best value for goods and services it uses.

So anyone expecting a Christmas card from the Phoenix Park property may well be disappointed. This year, she said, the majority of festive greetings will be emailed rather than posted.

President McAleese has already shown that she is in touch with the economic distress by taking a 10% pay cut and promising to take another one if necessary.


Despite her acknowledgement of the need for austerity, she was also upbeat about Ireland's ability to see itself through the current difficulties.

She said she believed the Irish people were better prepared to overcome the problems because of the entrepreneurial spirit engendered by the Celtic Tiger.

The worldwide economic downturn has had a particularly severe effect on Ireland.

A great deal of its growth in the past decade depended on a property market which has collapsed because of the credit crunch.

The country faces a massive budget deficit and the prospect of both public sector cuts and tax rises in order to balance its books.

On Wednesday, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said that the Irish government should focus on health, welfare and education cuts.

It said Irish healthcare workers were among the highest paid of its thirty industrial members and that there was scope for cutting resources while maintaining the same quality of outcome.

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