ACTIVISTS campaigning against the spiralling cost of living protested at City Hall this evening calling for an emergency budget before the Dáil’s summer recess. The protest took place before a Cork City Council meeting, with the issue also raised on the floor of the council.
The protest heard calls for the Government to implement further measures to help mitigate against the rising costs of utility bills, food and fuel prices and other expenses.
“I know the budget will be announced early but the point is people need help now,” Sinn Féin TD for Cork North Central, Thomas Gould told The Echo.
“You have people who are working, who are in full-time employment, some people who have two jobs in the one house, and they’re struggling to pay their bills.”
“Rents are going through the roof, heating, gas, everything is going through the roof — even bread and milk, the simple things in life,” Mr Gould said.
“There should be an emergency budget. The Taoiseach and the Tánaiste should ask the Dáil to sit for another week and bring in emergency measures.”
Party colleague and Cork city councillor Mick Nugent said measures introduced by the Government, such as the energy credit and the increase in the back-to-school allowance, were welcome but more needed to be done.
In particular, the Government should “widen the net” on those eligible for the back-to-school allowance, he said.
This was echoed by Socialist Party TD Mick Barry.
“The Government’s decision to ask people to wait until the autumn for budget reliefs other than those related to back-to-school costs was a wrong decision,” he said.
“If the Government force people to wait until September, I think the pre-budget protests can and should be very large indeed.”
Michael Kelleher from Blarney Street was at the protest yesterday evening. He said the rising cost of living was having a wide-reaching impact.
“People are struggling to make ends meet, even people who are working in a full-time job,” Mr Kelleher told The Echo. “The price of diesel and petrol is unbelievable, as we know, and with that up goes the cost of food and everything else.
“Something has to happen.”
Mr Kelleher voiced particular concern for young people struggling to pay rent or get on the property ladder.
This was echoed by another protestor, Joan Casey.
“My heart bleeds for people from 25-30, 40 whatever — they’ll never own a home,” the Ballincollig resident said.
Inside the council chamber, Sinn Féin councillors tabled a motion calling on the Government to bring forward an emergency budget before the Dáil rises for its summer break.
Fianna Fáil councillor Mary Rose Desmond agreed that people were struggling with the cost of living but said the Government had already introduced measures to help people.
She said further targeted measures were set to be announced in September but that putting together a budget takes time “to do it well”.
“We won’t be thanked for doing it any other way,” she continued.
This was echoed by Fine Gael councillor Shane O’Callaghan, who said the budget “cannot be rushed into”.
“If they get this Budget wrong, we’re looking at an economic catastrophe,” he said.
The motion ultimately fell with nine votes for, 10 against, and three abstentions.