Cost of living crisis hitting everyone from pensioners to taxi-drivers; plans for major protest in Cork city

“We’re calling on people to raise their voice, keep the pressure on the Government, and show solidarity with the people who are facing a real serious choice between heating and eating at the moment.”
Cost of living crisis hitting everyone from pensioners to taxi-drivers; plans for major protest in Cork city

John McCarthy, representing pay-as-you-go energy customers, Socialist Party TD Mick Barry, Margaret O’Regan, representing pensioners, and Cork Taxi Council chairman Bobby Lynch at the Cork Cost of Living Campaign press conference at the Maldron Hotel, Shandon. Picture: David Keane

AN increased amount of taxi drivers may be forced to turn to one of Cork’s oldest charities this Christmas for assistance due to the impact the rising cost of fuel and other expenses is having on those in the industry.

Bobby Lynch, a spokesperson for the Cork Taxi Council, said increases in the cost of petrol and diesel is impacting everyone but that the taxi industry is being “very badly” affected, forcing some to leave the sector.

“We had over 12 drivers last year coming to me on Christmas Day to get help for food and I passed them on to Caitríona Twomey of Penny Dinners and they looked after them.

“Last week, I had two lads onto me and we didn’t put up a notice yet about helping drivers,” Mr Lynch said, adding that he anticipates an uptick in the number of people looking for help in the months ahead.

He was speaking at a press conference in the Maldron Hotel in Shandon yesterday organised by the Cork Cost of Living Campaign ahead of another cost-of-living protest set to take place in Cork City next week.

The protest, part of a nationwide day of action, will take place on Saturday, November 12, assembling on the Grand Parade.

Pensioners who can't afford to heat homes 

Also speaking at the press briefing was Margaret O’Regan, a member of People Before Profit, talking about the cost-of-living crisis as it impacts pensioners.

“A lot of different sectors are affected by the cost-of-living increases and pensioners’ everyday quality of life is affected,” she said.

“I heard the other day, locally, one of my neighbours told me that a bag of coal has now gone beyond her reach… she doesn’t have any other form of heating.”

Ms O’Regan said rising costs is a cause of great anxiety among pensioners and that she believes the measures announced as part of the recent budget fall short of what is needed.

“It’s like going back to the ’80s. The ’80s was a very dark period in our history.

“It’s very much the same and pensioners like me, we’re used to marching the streets.

“I’ve been a political activist for half a century, so we’re used to going out fighting, we’re used to marching from the very early ’70s.

“So we’re going to continue and we’re going to be a thorn in their sides.”

Metered electricity users struggling 

John McCarthy, a pay-as-you-go energy customer, was also among the speakers at the press conference.

“It seems that we have been completely forgotten by the current Government,” he said, claiming that there is “nothing being done” by those in power to ensure pay-as-you-go customers would be included in the gas and electricity disconnections moratorium.

“It’s pretty bad being a pay-as-you-go customer; you’re terrified of the beep going off. 

"It’s usually 8am because they give you a little bit of time because of social hours and then you have to find money there and then just to put the kettle on. It’s terrible… when the beep goes we’ve got a day out of it, maybe two if we’re lucky, but we still have to find €20 or €30 to put into the thing,” he said.

Speaking at the press conference yesterday, Socialist Party TD for Cork North Central Mick Barry said the November 12 protest will call for a “stop to the profiteering”.

“There’s profiteering going on all around us and the Government are failing to take action against the profiteers,” he said.

“I would feel myself that we need to have the energy industry taken into public ownership and run on a not for profit basis,” he added.

Demonstration to keep pressure on Government 

Mr Barry said he anticipates that this next cost-of-living protest could be a “loud” and “colourful” demonstration.

He told The Echo that there has been “no fall-off in the feedback” coming to public representatives about the cost-of-living crisis.

“People were relieved to hear about the energy credits in the budget and some of the other reliefs.

“Some people are saying that they’re going to see how that works out and other people are telling us even at this stage that it’s clear to them that it’s not going to work out, that it doesn’t go far enough,” he said.

Mr Barry urged people to attend the protest on November 12, which will assemble on the Grand Parade at 2pm before marching through the streets of Cork.

“We’re calling on people to raise their voice, keep the pressure on the Government, and show solidarity with the people who are facing a real serious choice between heating and eating at the moment,” said Mr Barry.

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