'I'm tired of sitting idle -- I want to help make things happen'
RICHIE used to work in an office, but became unemployed "completely out of the blue" in February 2009.
"It was a shock at the start for the first six months to a year," he says.
The main problem wasn't the money, though as a single parent of a six-year-old daughter he was, and still is, finding it very hard to cope financially. The hardest thing was trying to adjust socially.
Because all of Richie's friends are still working he doesn't get to see them and his existence has grown more isolated as a consequence. "I'm in the house all day and that was very hard to get used to," he says.
After spending eight months idle, Richie had enough of the frustration of waiting for things to change and joined The Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed.
Yesterday he turned out at the Dail gates with his fellow members to protest any prospective social welfare cuts.
"Instead of sitting there waiting for things to change I wanted to help things happen myself," he explains.
He says the social welfare cut that has hurt him the most has been the increased contribution he has had to make to rent. "It's now €25 a week, but that has to be paid monthly and that €100 can be hard to find. It's half of my dole gone already on rent," he says.
Most stressful, Richie says, was that the authorities told him that, because of the cuts, he would have to renegotiate his rent downward himself.
Now he has all but given up on the prospect of finding work.
"I've had two interviews in the last year and a half and I'm getting less and less motivated," he says.
"I've no faith, not only in this government but in any of our political parties. The system has created this mess, not just a particular party."