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‘We’re planning dinners so elderly neighbours can have a hot meal’

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Some 100 senior citizens, single parents, workers and students gathered outside the Dáil on Thursday afternoon to protest the rising cost of living.

The protest was organised by the newly formed Cost of Living Coalition, which is supported by Sinn Féin, People Before Profit, as well as student and trade unions. The group is demanding Government action on energy, food and housing costs.

Speaking to The Irish Times, Mary Ryder said she had noticed “a huge increase” in her bills in recent months.

“I have free transport because I’m over 70 but heating and food costs have shot up. You see it in the bills. They’re double the price they were,” she said.

“We’re supposed to be getting the €200 credit payment from the Government, but I definitely haven’t seen it in this bill.”

Ms Ryder said her neighbours in Dublin 8 had been “talking about organising a weekly dinner for the more elderly neighbours in their 80s so they’d at least have a hot meal.”

Pat Fitzgerald (left), Helen Murphy both from the Irish Senior Citizens Parliament and John Lambkin at the protest. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

“That’s the level we’re at now with this crisis,” she said.

The cost of living, particularly for those living on the State pension, was “outrageous,” Paul O’Brien said.

“I personally have not really been hit but only because I had a good occupational pension but looking at the basics for elderly people on an old age pension and the way they’ve been hit… It’s beyond what people can afford,” he said.

“Inflation hits the poorest the hardest so unless this Government does something to alleviate poverty in this country we’ll be facing a major crisis. They are heaping everything on top of the poorest of society.”

Helen Murphy, from Galway, attended the protest to “represent retired workers and senior citizens” because of the “huge impact” the soaring cost of living was having on them.

“When you retire you spend more time in your home. That’s just the reality. Yet people just can’t afford to heat their houses. It’s a disaster and I know an awful lot of people it’s affecting,” she said.

The group encouraged protesters to bring copies of their household bills to “post back” to the Government.

Organisers provided a post box to collect bills and letters which will then be delivered to Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar.

Catherine Clancy from the Irish Senior Citizens Parliament and Beth O’Reilly from USI posting their bills at the Cost of Living Coalition’s protest outside the Dáil. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill
Catherine Clancy from the Irish Senior Citizens Parliament and Beth O’Reilly from USI posting their bills at the Cost of Living Coalition’s protest outside the Dáil. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett gave a speech at the protest and lead chants among the crowd including “eating or heating is not a choice” and “the people need a pay rise”.

People Before Profit have previously called for the minimum wage to be raised to €15 per hour.

The new Cost of Living Coalition has called a further march for June 18th in Dublin.



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