We’re all sick of being caught in the cost of living squeeze

According to a recent survey carried out by Social Justice Ireland, ‘one in five people in Ireland are living below the poverty line, after their housing costs are factored in’.

As if those statistics weren’t upsetting enough, as someone who finds it hard to make ends meet (from talking to readers, friends and colleagues, I know I’m not alone in my struggles), I note that the study also found that the urban-rural poverty gap widened considerably over the past year. Why? Well in my humble opinion, it’s because rural Ireland has been ignored, passed over, disregarded, and frozen out – nay, blanked – by every single government that naïve taxpayers have had the misfortune to vote into power. That’s why!

And as the country struggles to get back on its feet post-Covid, it shouldn’t be any surprise that (again according to the study) ‘rural Ireland faces significant challenges in the areas of job creation and service provision for an ageing population’.

Put simply folks, given the ever-increasing cost of living, you and I and every other poor sod caught up in this nightmare is in for a very rough ride. I don’t know about you, but taking the price of diesel into consideration, I’m seriously wondering how long it will be before I won’t be able to afford to drive to work.

And don’t even get me started on the cost of electricity! Do you know I forensically study the weather forecast before I decide to put a wash in the machine because, given I can no longer afford to dry clothes in my tumble dryer, the ability to hang washing out on the line (or not) demands a lot more of my attention?

Where will it all end? The more we grapple with these soaring energy costs, and panic while we watch our weekly grocery bill sky-rocket (for food staples, I’m not talking treats here), it’s clear to me that those of us living in rural Ireland will be left to foot the bill for the rest of the country.

But worry not, my fellow paupers – sorry, citizens – because Minister for Social Protection Heather “we do not have a magic money tree” Humphreys’ cunning plan to ease our spending burden is to launch a scheme for ‘three free vouchers for those availing of remote work hubs’. Well, may God bless her ingenuity, give that woman a medal! In fact, let’s see if Meryl Streep could make herself available to play people’s champion Heather in the movie of her life? I mean, surely Heather’s charitable Mother Teresa-esque humanitarianism deserves to be recognised, don’t you think?

Maybe I should cut Heather some slack, because I do realise we haven’t had time to recover from a worldwide health pandemic before Putin decided to invade Ukraine. I do get it! I also get that this ruthless madman’s actions have led to a backlash against him and Russia, which produces most of the world’s oil, and it’s this which has resulted in the fuel supply shocks. But couldn’t our government have come up with a better contingency plan to save on fuel… one that doesn’t involve ‘ordering’ us to work from home? I mean, what happens to those who can’t afford to pay their electricity/heating bills… do they tuck a hot water bottle up their jumpers and work by candlelight?

But wait, there’s a part deux to our Ministers’ ‘drive’ (pardon the pun) to save energy. Oh yes, apparently, those of us driving vehicles with ‘an odd number at the end of their car registration, will only be allowed to drive or refuel on alternate days’. As I’m already only driving on ‘alternate days’, and as I’ve already placed a self-imposed limit on ‘non-essential car journeys’, I feel the government’s ridiculous ‘that’s your lot’ hardline ideologue, coupled with their highly unpopular policies in our nation’s time of need, is uninventive, puny and so second-rate, it’ll hit them where it hurts…on the doorsteps!

Taxpayers are literally living from weekly pay packet to pay packet, using every euro in our accounts to meet rent/mortgage and childcare. Thankfully, I don’t have dependent kiddies, but I do have senior fur babies (all rescues) who are all on veterinary prescribed food and meds, which are very expensive.

I know there are parents across Roscommon wondering how on earth they’re going to scramble together the funds they need to keep their families fed and clothed. I also know that as kids don’t understand (nor should they ever have to bear the brunt of our financial burdens), they’ll be plotting and planning their summer entertainment with their pals, meaning the requests for summer project or camp fees will be coming in thick and fast. Is it any wonder there’s a substantial rise in the number of people seeking help from local food banks?


Please stay safe on that post-Leaving Cert holiday

Due to being a teenage wife and mother, I never got the opportunity to go on the post-Leaving Cert ‘rip’ with my pals. I’ll just wait here while you break out the violins!

Instead of being a carefree kid, I was up to my tonsils in dirty nappies, trying hard to come to terms with parenting a beautiful, premature, new-born bundle of joy. You could say I was too busy ‘adulting’. Working hard to pay my household bills and car loan meant I viewed spending money on myself to be a frivolous act; a bag of chips and a can of coke had to suffice as a means of celebrating.

Indeed, so prudishly prissy was the teenage Miriam, she didn’t even have the time to touch a drop of alcohol until her thirties… bitter much? I’d say I’m more jealous than bitter. Why? Because as students across Ireland hand in that final exam paper, and panicked parents bear witness to the mass exodus of their post-leaving Cert, pre-college darlings heading off to the likes of Ibiza, Portugal and the Canaries, I feel I’ve missed out big time on that highly important rite-of-passage milestone.

Mind you, I’ve never been one to go ‘mental’ on a holiday, rather I’m the boring, prepare-for-every-eventuality-mind-the-passports-and-pack-the-plasters-the-imodium-and-the-savlon nerd! In fact, I was the only one of my pals who never smoked behind the bike shed (to this day I’ve never even tried a cigarette). Nor back in the day did I ever entertain the desire to ‘down shots’! For the record, as I’m no longer living life like a retired nun, I have since downed a shot or three! Go me!

But you get my drift readers – I feel I’ve missed out. That being said, when my own girls headed off on their post-Leaving Cert, leftover-beer-and-greasy-big-Mac-for-breakfast-binge-fest rite-of-passage (with the possibility of arriving home with a dodgy tattoo inked onto their unmentionables), I wasn’t so much a worried mother… rather I was an unhinged candidate suitable for psychiatric treatment!

Therefore, even though I’m jealous I never got to be that Ibiza thong-wearing, fake-tanned nymph, I have been that over-wrought, nails-bitten-to-my-elbows-mammy who discreetly shoved condoms into her child’s luggage because I know that hormonal, unsupervised teenagers will be, well, hormonal, unsupervised teenagers!

With that in mind, I’d like to offer some advice to those of you, who are, this week, planning to party ‘till you drop and fall out of nightclubs… and it’s this:

Whether you’re heading to Magaluf, Majorca, or Playa de Las Debauchery, please, please kids, stay safe. That means remain with your group, look out for the shy, vulnerable, easily-led one and mind them, and stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. On the subject of drink, watch your alcoholic bevvies as they’re being poured into the glass, and never leave them unattended. For the record, if you feel weak, sleepy, become unaware of what’s happening around you and your ability to defend yourself is reduced, seek help; your drink may have been spiked. Bring plenty of high factor sunscreen, use it, and keep an emergency stash of cash hidden in the event you get into difficulties.



There’s something about Liz…

Adding insult to her ridiculous plan to override the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has managed to reach the apex of stupidity by mispronouncing Micheál Martin’s job title while responding to his comment regarding relations between our countries reaching a “new low point”.

As someone who views the British government and its ministers as a bunch of decrepit, patronising, conceited, ill-mannered twats (but that’s just my opinion, and I wish them well), a high-ranking Tory calling our Taoiseach a “Tea-sock” didn’t come as any surprise to me whatsoever.

What does surprise me however, is that the British people – the majority of whom I’m sure are a very decent, intelligent bunch – not only voted Truss into power, they actually pay the insolent woman to dole out this tripe!