Families fear not being able to feed children
The harsh realities for thousands of families struggling with austerity have been revealed by charity St Vincent de Paul.
There is a family in rural Ireland where the mother moves tinned food from the cupboard to the fridge in a vain effort to make it look full for her three children.
When her husband lost his low-paying job last year, the family also lost the Family Income Supplement.
Each day, her main worry is whether her family will have enough to eat. The woman has "aged 10 years" from the constant financial stress but she is even more fearful for her husband's state of mind and is genuinely afraid he will "end up in the river".
This is a genuine "live" case study -- one of 13 anonymous families in Ireland who represent the "Human Face of Austerity" highlighted by St Vincent de Paul.
But there are thousands more just like them, the society warned at the launch of its pre-Budget submission to the Government.
Among the cases brought to light by SVP volunteers was "Sharon" -- a lone mother of three children, whose family home boasts a solid fuel stove, but they have no money to pay for briquettes or coal.
She was receiving maintenance of €50 a week from her ex-partner until his work hours were reduced and these payments stopped. She has a loan of more than €7,000 with the credit union, which was taken to meet the costs of a family funeral and Christmas expenses.
Sharon cannot afford to pay this and the Credit Union is bringing a court action. She owes €700 in electricity bills, €90 for the school book rental scheme and pays €75 to a moneylender each week.
Recently, their electricity supplier issued them with a disconnection notice.
SVP President Geoff Meagher said the reality was that a lot of people were struggling with the basics like food and heating, "things that are normal for every family on a day-to-day basis".
He urged the Government to take "every opportunity" in the Budget to ensure that those who could afford it must shoulder a greater share of the burden.