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Northern Ireland-born cleric blasts David Cameron for 'protecting rich colleagues'

By Daniel Bentley

One of Britain's most senior Roman Catholics has accused David Cameron of turning a blind eye to the poor while protecting his “very rich colleagues” in the City.

Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the head of the Catholic church in Scotland, said it was “immoral” how the less well-off had been made to “suffer” over the failings in the financial services sector.

In an interview with BBC1's Sunday Politics in Scotland, the Ballycastle-born church leader urged the Prime Minister to introduce a ‘Robin Hood tax’ on financial transactions to raise money for the poor.

Mr Cameron is opposed to unilateral action on a financial transactions levy and described plans for an EU-wide scheme as “madness”.

But Cardinal O'Brien said: “My message to David Cameron, as the head of our Government, is to seriously think again about this Robin Hood tax, the tax to help the poor by taking a little bit from the rich.

“The poor have suffered tremendously from the financial disasters of recent years and nothing, really, has been done by the very rich people to help them.

“And I am saying to the Prime Minister, ‘look, don't just protect your very rich colleagues in the financial industry, consider the moral obligation to help the poor of our country'.”

The Cardinal said he was not only concerned about people in “abject poverty” but also people who might have thought themselves “reasonably well-off”.

“People who have saved for their pensions and now realise their pension funds are no more, people who are considering giving up their retirement homes that they have been saving for, poverty affecting young couples and so on and so on,” he said.

“It is these people who have had to suffer because of the financial disasters of recent years and it is immoral.

“It is not moral, just to ignore them and to say ‘struggle along', while the rich can go sailing along in their own sweet way.”

A Downing Street spokesman said: “The Government inherited enormous debt but the Prime Minister is determined to help people who are struggling with the consequences of that.”

Profile

As head of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, Cardinal Keith O'Brien (right) is Great Britain's most senior Catholic cleric. Born in Ballycastle, he is known as the 'Cardinal of Controversy', and recently branded same-sex marriage an “aberration” and Government plans to legislate for it “madness”.

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