500 pensioners in ‘silent protest’ in Cork city centre
OVER 500 pensioners protested in Cork city centre today as part of a nationwide campaign to get Budget cutbacks reversed.
The campaign, dubbed a ‘Silent Protest’ by organiser Tom Byrne (69), attracted pensioners from all over Cork, Kerry, Waterford, Tipperary and Limerick.
“These cutbacks have been extremely cruel and they are impacting on the most vulnerable members of our society,” Mr Byrne warned.
A pensioner from Glanmire, Co Cork, he said the abolition of the €114 monthly landline telephone allowance was having the most grievous impact on the elderly.
“Pensioners living alone or living in isolated areas depended on that allowance to operate their alarm pendants. Without their landlines, they have to fork out for radio-controlled alarms or mobile phone linked devices,” he said.
Widow Bridget Fitzgibbon (68) said people are now living alone in fear because of the Government’s cuts.
“I believe they are also trying to turn young people against the elderly. It is a disgrace what has happened,” she said.
Retired CIE worker and SIPTU official, Tony Tobin, said he was so furious over the cutbacks he travelled from Waterford to Cork to support the protest.
“The Government might think that the elderly are easy targets. I can assure them here today that we are not,” he said.
“I have had cancer, a heart-attack and asthma. But I will fight against these cutbacks because they are absolutely outrageous,” he said.
“The Government had better realise that this is the first salvo in a campaign that won’t stop until these cuts are reversed.”
Active Retirement official, Moira Quinlan, said pensioners had made massive contributions to Irish society and had endured hard times to help deliver prosperity for the country.
“To have them singled out for cutbacks is not only unfair it is absolutely unforgivable,” she added.
Jill McNamara (68) warned that only by standing together can elderly people prevent further cuts and work to reverse the current cutbacks.
“There has also been a raft of stealth cuts including the reduction in support for respite care. I know one 82 year old woman who now faces a bill of €300 a week for respite care that she undertook because she thought it was going to be covered by the Department. It is very unfair,” she warned.