Panic about back-to-school costs and a fear of the impending winter as people face soaring fuel prices were the main concerns voiced at a protest in Cork before Government breaks for summer.
A motion calling for an emergency budget to tackle the spiralling cost of living was to be called for at Cork City Council’s final meeting before summer recess after protesters dispersed from the gathering outside.
“We want someone to hear us,” Julie Ann Cunneen said outside Cork’s City Hall.
Ms Cunneen is profoundly deaf and arthritis makes movement difficult but she travelled for an hour to to Cork City Hall with her son Liam and their assistance dog to campaign for change.
As the sole carer for her son Liam who is also deaf and has conditions including autism and ADHD, Ms Cunneen said that inflation is particularly keenly felt for them.
She was already struggling to make ends meet and is now getting into debt due to the escalating fuel prices she must pay to get them both to necessary medical appointments in Dublin.
Sinn Féin TD Thomas Gould said that people are struggling and they cannot wait until September for relief.
“People need help now,” he said. “People are hurting. And they’re angry.
“There are a lot of people in this country who are doing very well. But we’re leaving tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of people behind.
“I know a girl at the moment who is trapped in a shelter. She’s a graduate of UCC, is going back to do a Masters in September, and she’s been in Edel House since February, homeless, fulltime working, can’t get a place. That’s the society we’re living in.
We believe by September there’ll be an increase in homelessness, an increase in evictions, an increase in the amount of people looking to Saint Vincent De Paul and Penny Dinners for help.
“I fear, I really fear for the winter.”
Protestor Carol Brogan said that the rising cost of living is not just a pinch but a major squeeze for already struggling families.
“It’s ludicrous that the Government can go on their summer recess without addressing this properly," Ms Brogan said.
“We saw during Covid the Government was able to find €350 per week for working people to cushion the blow of Covid. This is the same type of emergency in my view, this is a monetary emergency, it’s a social emergency.
“We’re seeing piecemeal concessions like €100 extra for the back to school allowance. I would like to see that extended to all families, not just families on social welfare, who of course deserve it. But this crisis also affect working people quite acutely.
“I know people who are deliberately cutting back on groceries. I work with families and children, I see people cutting back to try to afford uniforms and books. I can feel the panic in people about going back to school.”
Solidarity councillor Fiona Ryan said that with inflation at a 39-year high, almost every household in the country was facing dramatic hikes in their cost of living.
"With inflation set to hit 10% this year, the hardship facing thousands of households isn’t being addressed by the budget being brought forward by two weeks as planned by the government."