As Ireland begins to emerge from the economic darkness of recent years any element of solidarity which may have developed as a result of our shared pain is in danger of dissipating.
You can almost feel the divisions creeping out of the shadows.
House price increases, in particular in urban areas, which benefit some sections of society is a case in point. They are putting home ownership out of the reach of many once again. Higher rents and the lack of supply of both private rented and social housing are resulting in more and more homelessness. Increasing numbers of homeless families in Dublin are now being accommodated in hotels because there is no suitable alternative housing available.
The urban/rural divide is also growing with continuously diminishing services in rural areas leaving more and more people isolated from the most basic of facilities.
And the gap between those who are positioned to benefit most from any recovery and those still struggling on fixed incomes from the State or in low-paid employment is striking.
Unless we tackle these divisions and seek a more inclusive society, we risk leaving a generation of children behind, we risk creating a future population of older people who live in poverty, we risk being unable to weather future crises, and we risk missing the opportunity to develop Ireland into a fairer, more equal society.
The Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) has a unique insight into the lives of people who are struggling. SVP members are invited into the homes of the people who seek our help to provide support, friendship and assistance and we see at first hand the impact that the financial crisis and the austerity programme which followed has had on struggling households across Ireland.
And behind the stark numbers there are the unyielding personal struggles with mental anguish and stressed relationships.
The reality is that, welcome as they are, the signs of economic recovery that have some commentators close to ecstasy will only benefit everyone if we can we ensure that we achieve the right kind of recovery. That is not just an economic recovery but a social one as well.
No one would argue against a vision for Ireland where caring for each other, and our children, older people and people with disabilities is valued and supported; where individuals, families and communities can participate fully in society and where an adequately resourced State, and a strong economy, employment and business environment support the type of society that we wish to live in.
But clearly that will not happen with a single focus on economics and austerity, which hasn't gone away. We still face an adjustment of around €2bn to be made in Budget 2015.
This is a time of risk and opportunity for our country. We are asking the Government to set out a roadmap for the right kind of recovery, a recovery which will tackle the inequalities that are preventing our people from reaching their potential and which are storing up human, economic and social costs for the future.
We need government leadership and policies that focus on people as much as strategy and economic issues.
We need a plan that outlines what the Government will do to ensure that increasing growth and employment means that quality jobs are available to all, including those who are distant from the labour market and who have been scarred by the experience of long-term unemployment and poverty.
We need the Government to allocate the resources which will allow all children in Ireland to grow up free from poverty. And as a society we need to ask ourselves how we can all work together to ensure the full participation of all of our citizens – citizens in the broadest sense – in our recovery.
We need more public debate on these issues.
SVP welcomes the progress achieved to date in Ireland's recovery but as an organisation we are still dealing with the impact on many vulnerable families during the past five years. People who were least well-off before the economic crisis remain so, and their difficulties have been worsened due to cutbacks to the supports and services on which they rely.
In addition, those who have lost jobs, had business failures, seen significant falls in their income or are affected by over-indebtedness require supports in the short, medium and longer term to ensure that they are prevented from falling into long-term unemployment and poverty.
This reality witnessed by the Society of St Vincent de Paul cannot and should not be ignored in any assessment of the impact of the crisis, recession and the effects of long-term disadvantage on communities across the country.
Nor can this reality be ignored in planning for Ireland's recovery.
Geoff Meagher is the National President of the Society of St Vincent de Paul