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Thursday 27 April 2017

Hope fades on growing dole queues

People from all walks of life suffer weekly indignity

Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

Patrick Gaskin: says work in bar trade has dried up

THERE are plenty of courses to be had but nothing comes out of them afterwards, confided a heavy-set man who had arrived to sign on.

He is fed up doing them -- bricklaying and forklifting, anything really. He keeps an open mind and is willing to train up so long as it gets him a couple of days' work, preferably outdoors, and gives him something to fill the long days and earn a few quid.

In the meantime, he's noticed that the queues are lengthening at the local social welfare office.

"People are really feeling it now," he declared. "Really feeling it. Nobody has a bean anymore, nobody goes anywhere, it's terrible."

The "anatomy" of the average dole queue these days no longer recognises boundaries of age, gender, background or advantage. It matters little whether you were at the top of your game or were once the best in your field.

Locking up his bicycle yesterday outside the social welfare office on Dublin's Thomas Street -- a stone's throw away from the home of the "black stuff" at St James's Gate -- was one aspiring young entrepreneur in a navy cashmere jumper.

"I'm doing my own thing. I have four or five business opportunities in the pipeline and hopefully things will get started soon," he revealed. This stint on the dole is a temporary hiccup, but he doesn't want his name to be known. The stigma still stands.

A young former human resources manager is next. Unemployed since January, he occupies his time by completing his PhD. He has looked for work everywhere -- the US, Europe and Australia, but finds he is competing with candidates with more experience.

Former barman Patrick Gaskin, from nearby Bow Lane, says work in the pub trade has "completely dried up".

"It's really tough but you have to get on with it and hope something comes your way," said the father of two teenagers, aged 18 and 17.

Prejudice

Whatever about the perceived prejudice, all accents and educational backgrounds are represented here. Nobody has a choice but to stand patiently in line.

And when their turn comes, they must bear the wearisome indignity of questions plied by welfare officers. The officials want to know if they have "made every effort to find work" when, in fact, the cost of stamps to send off countless job applications devoured a sizeable chunk of their dole money the previous week.

One middle-aged man arrives at the Thomas Street office holding a paperback of James Joyce's 'Ulysses', zipping it carefully inside his jacket when a rain shower begins to spill.

A seasonal worker in the tourist trade, this will be his first summer on the dole.

"Every time I go in, I have to answer questions like am I making a reasonable effort to find a job. What do they expect?" he asked.

Irish Independent

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