Monday 19 August 2019

'The cuts in 2009 were so hard... pensioners were due an increase this time...'

Pensioner, PJ Gallagher. Photo: Fergal Phillips
Pensioner, PJ Gallagher. Photo: Fergal Phillips

IT is not easy surviving on a State pension, according to PJ Gallagher.

The Budget contained a number of benefits for old age pensioners, but Mr Gallagher (67) says a lot more needs to be done.

"I suppose as far as senior citizens are concerned, (the Budget) is very much what we believed it would be," he said.

PJ has struggled to make ends meet in recent years, particularly in the wake of the recession.

"It has been very difficult as a State pensioner," he said. "The cuts in 2009 were so hard. We were due an increase this time."

Originally from Co Roscommon, PJ moved to Dublin in 1979 when he joined the St John of God in Stillorgan. However, he left the order in 1985 as he said the lifestyle did not appeal to him.

PJ currently lives alone in social housing in Baldoyle, and said there were a few issues that affected him that were ignored.

"There was no reference to the prescription charges," he said.

"It is because I am on ongoing, long-term medication for a number of ailments."

As he suffers from cardiac issues, stomach problems and anxiety, PJ is on seven different prescribed medications, including beta blockers.

PJ will still have to pay €2.50 on each of his prescriptions, which, in his experience, can add up very quickly each month.

He also visits his GP regularly.

PJ had wanted an increase of €5 per week to pensions ahead of the Budget.

While senior citizens will see a €3 per week pension increase, PJ thinks this is "very little".

However, he added that "it's a question of every little helps".

"It's really a Budget about childcare and middle-income groups," he added.

For PJ, the 75pc restoration of the Christmas bonus was "the big news" of the day. He also praised the €2.50 fuel allowance increase.

"The Christmas bonus is to be welcomed," he said.

"We expect the other quarter of the bonus next year.

"I would describe it as a Budget that's a step in the right direction, but there's a lot more to be done," he added.


Irish Independent

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