‘I can barely afford the essentials’ – thousands take to the streets for cost-of-living protest rallies
Thousands of protestors took to the streets across Ireland today in a bid to force the Government to take action to control the spiralling cost-of-living.
n Dublin, families, pensioners and young single people were among the 500 people gathered at the Garden of Remembrance.
The ‘Cost of Living Coalition’ organised the city centre protest as well as other marches in Cork, Galway, Limerick and Sligo this afternoon.
One of the families taking part in the protest was the Leahy family, who live in Dublin.
Michael Leahy was attending the protest with wife Zoe, and children Cameron (10), Abigail (8) and Emerson (4).
Michael said they while he held down a reasonably well-paid job, he found it difficult to make ends end meet very month.
“I have a decent job,” Michael said. “I just find it harder to get on, on a day to day basis. Halfway through the month and I find my wages are gone and I’m thinking, ‘what am I going do for the next two weeks.
“Again, by no measure am I on a low income; I’m middle income, but it’s just really tough to survive.
“I’ve noticed it creep up, particularly over the last year and a half.
“They talk about inflation but that’s a big issue. I’m not big into economics and I don’t know the ins and outs of how it all works. All I know is that I can barely afford the bare essentials at the moment right now.”
Zoe also revealed that she is currently studying for a degree in DCU but may have to be forced to give up her dream if the situation demanded it.
“I’ve noticed the rise in costs of food, when it comes to the shopping,” she said.
“Just the basics, when you go into to do the weekly shopping. It might have averaged €65 – €80 but now it is €100 – €120 on a weekly basis.
“I know it’s not a huge leap but when you’re paying for extra activities for the kids you really feel it then.
“So, we’re only on one income at the moment but I feel under pressure to get a second income now. I feel I may have to choose between wanting to do something to progress myself and supporting my family.
Panos and Nadine from Greece have been living in Dublin for 10 years.
“We want to show support for the people who cannot afford the cost of living,” Panos said.
“We want to point out, what is the reason? Why can people not afford to live?
“For us, rent is a big problem, obviously. “But then there is gas, and petrol, for your car, and food, of course.
Panos admitted the situation was not that better in Greece, and felt it was same across Europe, where people, especially for the lower classes are really struggling.
Pensioners Billy and Mary Doyle from Tallaght revealed that while their children have all left home they were also left struggling to make ends meet.
“I’m just sick of the situation in this country,” Mary said.
“We’re pensioners and we struggle to survive. Our kids have all left home but our own costs, especially for gas and electricity are more and more difficult to pay for.”
Billy added: “Petrol, fuel.. anything and everything you can think of is rising. As Mary said, we’re pensioners but it’s hitting everybody.
“We bought a house years ago on a big mortgage and we’re still paying for it. I know people will say that’s my fault, but we have to try and cover it on a pension. That’s just the way it is.”
The Cost of Living Coalition, which is made up of trade unions, political parties and a number of other interest groups, staged the demonstration at the Garden of remembrance before demonstrators marched from Parnell Square to Dáil Éireann.
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald and homelessness campaigner Fr Peter McVerry were among those who addressed the rally outside the Dáil.
“Developments in the last two days show that the cost of living crisis is deepening with nearly 30% of households experiencing energy poverty,” said Dublin march coordinator Eddie Conlon.
“This will get worse as prices continue to rise. Urgent action is needed.
“Next October will be too late for many households, as they slide further and further into financial distress,” he added.
Mr Conlon said the Cost of Living Coalition will be demanding controls on energy costs, protection of incomes, that housing is made affordable, investment in public services and for wealth to be shared.
The Government has so far resisted calls for a so-called “mini budget” ahead of the autumn to roll out further measures for families.
However, it has denied allegations that it has been slow to act on the issue, highlighting that the steps it has taken to tackle cost-of-living pressures since last October add up to €2.5bn.
On Thursday, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said he has not ruled out bringing in additional measures to help cash-strapped households, but said there are no specific plans to do so before budget day.
A demonstration also took place at 2pm today on Cork’s St Patrick Street, with another rally staged in Galway’s Eyre Square at 2pm. Protests were also held on Bedford Row in Limerick and outside Sligo’s Town Hall.
Director of Cork Life Centre Don O’Leary said Ireland needed to act to protect the most vulnerable.
“We have people coming to us and saying children are going to be hungry this winter,” he said.
“Children are already suffering – we are laying (the ground) for future generations of young people to go through mental health problems because of issues to do with hunger, cold and poverty in the current day.”