Heartbreaking letter by working mum captures mood of nation
She is the working mother who captured the mood of a nation.
At her wits' end, hard-working mother-of-two Donna Hartnett sat down and penned a letter to the Irish Independent telling the Government enough was enough and she was putting her children first.
Her searingly honest letter touched a nerve with every working parent who nurses feelings of guilt as she spoke of rousing her sleeping children from their warm beds at 6.30am so they could be packed off to creche while she and her husband rushed to get to work on time.
She pointed out that Tessa (4) and Ryan (20 months) are out of their home longer than the average industrial worker and are "being raised in childcare centres like hens".
The much-maligned water tax proved to be the final straw for the Hartnett family.
Read more: Donna's words that went viral
Donna, who works as a community executive, and her husband Paul, who is employed in the transport sector, had battled valiantly to cope with a 35-year mortgage, massive childcare costs and a slew of new taxes.
However, Donna has decided no more. She has now quit her community executive job of nine years to "give my children their childhood back".
Speaking to the Irish Independent last night, Donna, from Glounthaune, Co Cork, said: "We are slaves to our bills and our taxes. It got to the point where we looked at each other and asked what on earth we were working for.
"There were months after paying our mortgage and over €1,000 on childcare costs that we had nothing left.
"When one of my children got sick I sat on the landing and cried because I was worried about them and worried about what I was going to do about work," she added.
The proposed water charge was simply a bridge too far and Donna felt her only outlet was to write to this newspaper to vent her frustration at the never-ending spiral of bills and taxes facing working families.
Her letter quickly went viral - and was viewed more than 15,000 times on Independent.ie - as thousands of other families identified with her message of frustration and guilt.
"I know we are not alone - there are tens of thousands of other Irish families in exactly our position," she said.
"Ordinary working people are in a prison of bills, debts and taxes. People who never took a gamble on the property or stock markets.
"There comes a time when yet another bill arrives to be paid and you say 'enough is enough'. What is the point of working to pay State bills or taxes when you feel that the real losers are your own children?"
"Like thousands of others we are caught between a Government that wants us to pay taxes and employers that don't want workers absent because of their children."