Sunday 22 September 2019

'The empathy I feel is overshadowed by envy' - Reaction split on Cork mother Donna Hartnett's viral 'Letter To The Editor'

Donna Hartnett from Cork has given up work to mind her children. Picture: Michael MacSweeney/Provision
Donna Hartnett from Cork has given up work to mind her children. Picture: Michael MacSweeney/Provision
Hard-working mother-of-two Donna Hartnett penned a letter to the Irish Independent telling the Government enough was enough in terms of financial pain for working parents and she was putting her children first – now her words have gone viral on the web. Photo: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision
The letter was published in yesterday's Irish Independent

Clare Cullen

A 'Letter to the Editor' published in the Irish Independent from frustrated Cork woman Donna Hartnett has gone viral.

In the letter, Harnett lamented the introduction of water charges as the final straw.

Read: Donna's words that went viral

The reaction to the piece online has been split, with many people feeling sympathy for the woman's situation but almost as many criticising the letter.

Reactions on Facebook and Twitter were mostly positive, with users describing the letter as having "captured the mood of the nation" and "so well written, such simple terms, powerful impact".

Sympathy for the family appears to be strong, with readers stating that "the working classes are right behind you!", adding "Brilliant article, brave and fearless woman, well done".

However, a few users tapered back the support, saying that while her situation is tough, "there are so many in that position and worse".

Read: Heartbreaking letter by working mum captures mood of nation

Reaction on the website was noticeably less sympathetic, with commenters advising that Donna should have thought "long and hard before having kids AND a mortgage".

"Stop moaning lady, pay your way like the rest of us have to."

Several users questioned the validity of her claims. "Does she not find the un-means tested, tax free children's allowance of any help? You cant have everything in life . Children, a job, a bank mortgaged house. Wake up and smell the coffee".

Many people have requested an alternative proposal by those against the water charges. "One has to offer an alternative if you are going to refuse water charges I am sick of people wanting everything for free in this country".

Mothers expressed their empathy with Hartnett, citing their own personal experience attempting to balance work and home life while still making ends meet.

"It breaks my heart that my daughter is in crèche for 50hrs a week and I only get to spend 2 days a week with her.. Well 1.5 days by the time you do grocery shop and housework".

Read the letter here: 'Our lives became a prison, a prison for our jobs, our home, this tax system' - Irish mother's frustration strikes a chord

Mother Katie Coyle wrote in to to add her voice to the conversation.

"I am so happy for Donna as she is one of the lucky ones who can afford to give up work.  I am a mother of four children aged five, four and two, two year olds.  We have a traditionally thought of as good jobs. I work in the public sector which means that Haddington road requires me to work more hours for less pay, which has caused my child care costs to go up.  I barely see my children and a totally powerless to change this.  Our financial outlays are so tight that we could not even contemplate the luxury of staying at home with my children.  

The empathy I feel with Donna is overshadowed by envy for her and frustration at the governments predicament.

All I know is that we were at breaking point along time ago.

Surely someone understands that this cannot go on and will make the change for us and our children".

We want to know what you think? Do you think Hartnett is right - are water charges the final straw?

Add your voice to the conversation in the comments below or email with your story.

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