The poster designed to highlight their collective ire was a direct riposte to a pledge by Taoiseach Enda Kenny to make Ireland the “best small country in the world in which to grow old”.
Pensioners who gathered outside the Opera House in Cork City to take part in a protest march were having none of it. Incensed at year-on-year budget cutbacks that have led to many losing medical cards and GP visit cards, while others struggle with an increased prescription charge, up to a 1,000 took to the streets to show the Government they mean business. Such is the level of fury that active consideration is being given to running pensioners as candidates in the next election to ensure the “grey vote” has representation.
Seems to be an OAP Flashmob protest against something outside Cork Opera house NOW ! pic.twitter.com/7aO8FYb7cX— Richard Jacob (@idahocafe) November 5, 2013
Tony Tobin, from Co Waterford, a member of the Labour Party since 1977 up to his recent resignation, said the party should be ashamed, that they had “disgraced themselves”.
“The grey vote will have to consider running in the next election, it’s the only way to have our own voice,” he said.
His wife Margaret said they were utterly disillusioned after losing their GP visit card despite the fact husband was asthmatic, had previously had cancer and suffered a heart attack last February.
March organiser, Tom Byrne, 69, chairman of the Glanmire Active Retirement Association, was angry that men and women who had paid taxes all their life, and who had helped struggling sons and daughters get on the property ladder, now found themselves being penalised.
He was particularly angry with the upcoming abolition from 2014 of the telephone allowance, worth €114 annually, describing it as the “cruellest cut”.
Denis Carroll, from Ballyphehane, Cork City, said the Government should consider giving “a euthanasia grant” to rid itself of the headache of pensioners.
Tom Mulcahy, from Glanmire, said the Government saw OAPs as “cash cows to be slaughtered”.
Séamus Kelly, CEO of Survivors Unite in Mayfield, said if survivors of abuse had medical cards removed, he would go on hunger strike outside the Dáil.
Advocate for the elderly, Paddy O’Brien said it was “disgraceful” that so many elderly people were being forced to take to the streets. “One old lady said to me recently she wished she was dead. She’s 84,” he said.
William Horgan from Turner’s Cross, Cork City, said he wouldn’t be paying his water rates or his TV licence in protest at the cutbacks.
Sheila Barry, from Blackrock, Cork City, said her fear was that the Government would eventually take away free travel, which she said was a lifeline for many elderly as well as being good for the economy.
“Pensioners spend when they travel. It would have a huge economic impact if they withdrew free travel. It would also lead to rampant depression,” she said.
May Lyons, 67, from Ballygarvan, Co Cork, was alone in saying she appreciated the perks she still retained as a pensioner.
However, she said the Government needed to roll out a programme to educate her generation in use of the internet.
“Everything now is WWW dot. I think the government needs to retrain our age group. There are whole sections of society who are not computer literate,” she said.