Saturday 10 December 2016

'We feel like so many others:  forgotten, betrayed and abandoned'

Marie Hanna Curran is one of the  long-suffering silent majority who has had enough of paying out without getting anything in return

Published 13/03/2016 | 20:45

Can't give any more: Marie Hanna Curran and her husband Donal O'Connor are tired of being squeezed by the relentless cuts and simultaneous hikes in taxes and cuts. Photo: Andrew Downes.
Can't give any more: Marie Hanna Curran and her husband Donal O'Connor are tired of being squeezed by the relentless cuts and simultaneous hikes in taxes and cuts. Photo: Andrew Downes.

February 26, a date my husband and I, like most Irish people, had been waiting for. A chance to finally speak to  our Government, who for five years were doing all of the talking and none of the listening

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Our household, like many households in today's Ireland, witnessed my husband's job loss in 2009 and although thankful to find a job in a factory weeks later, we watched his wage packet shrink. That same job has no pension provision. Then, in 2012, I stepped back from my full-time job in finance due to the illness and had to lean even more heavily upon a singular wage and a payment from social welfare.

My parents, hard-working people nearing retirement, insisted upon dipping into their pockets in order to allow us to keep my private health insurance. Had they not, I would have been a number on a waiting list to see consultants, a statistic filed in our inept health system. The fact my husband and I had paid our taxes and were the law-abiding puppets our Government expected us to be, well, it meant as it did for all our fellow Irish men and women: we were expected to give and not take.

My parents aren't alone. There are adult children still living in their childhood homes, their wages inadequate to meet spiralling rents, their hopes of owning their own home placed firmly in the territory of dreamland. There are parents helping to top up mortgages, buy food, help with childcare and the cost of childcare. In short, it's the Irish mammies and daddies who are helping this generation - not the Government.

They have ignored the hard-working people of Ireland for the last five years. People who lost well-paid jobs to lower-paid jobs, took pay cuts on the chin, lost permanent jobs to contract-based jobs and watched as siblings left to source work beyond the lapping of an Irish tide.

Few of us have to look far from our immediate family to find someone reliant on our creaking health system, or hear of a parent worrying about funding their children's future, each school heavily reliant on parent's voluntary contributions.

For those of us lucky to own our own home, we hope wages continue to come in the door to meet each mortgage payment, each month a precarious balancing act. As for those living under rented roofs, they hope to remain beneath them.

Our outgoings and taxes increased over the last five years and the Government were doing what with those taxes?

Oh yes, the recovery, that's where our money went. The famous recovery, the one my husband and I are still frantically searching for.

Banks are back to profitability and unemployment figures are in decline, it's time to party and considering the millions Fine Gael and Labour proposed to fund the Centenary Celebrations, a massive party is in the offing. Ireland about to take centre stage.

However, while the cake and candles are being ordered, we here in the middle, the Irish citizens who for the last five years paid income taxes, property taxes, car tax, VAT - you name it, we paid it - took each cut and each additional rising cost on the chin. And what did we receive in return?

Solvent banks, that's what we got, solvent banks which ironically own most of those who saved them (an inaudible footnote), something to be whispered in the presence of Europe, which looks upon our nation favourably again. Ireland, the pin-up state.

Only that image came at a cost. The Irish people, well, we've have had enough. We can no longer give what we don't have to give and we're done giving for nothing.

It's time our elected politicians began to give back to their people. Give back in the form of a working health system, services for those in need, pension provisions for all those earning, the promise of a decent wage that we can live on and transparency as to where it is our taxes actually go.

It's time the Irish people returned to centre stage and time that those who are elected support them upon that stage.

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