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Shannon's Kay Murphy, who recently completed a term as President of Active Retirement Ireland. Photograph by John Kelly

Former Active Retirement president slams Budget treatment of old people

A FORMER national president of Active Retirement Ireland, Shannon’s Kay Murphy was far from happy with Tuesday’s budget.
A €5 increase in the State pension and a €3 increase in the living alone allowance were some of the headline items affecting older people, but they didn’t impress Kay.
“We were expecting a little bit more dignity in our lives, that we wouldn’t be left on the poverty line. The €5 increase, it doesn’t bear thinking about. As for the €3 living alone allowance, that’s a total insult altogether.
“At the moment it’s (the living alone allowance) €19 and it’ll go to €22. But when you’re living alone after being married and you’ve buried your spouse, you lose nearly half a pension.
“Your expenses don’t go down, you’re still at the same level. It doesn’t bear thinking about, it doesn’t make up for it at all.
“There are so many older people now bordering on poverty that it’s absolutely shocking. The €5 isn’t going to make much difference to anyone.”
An increase of €5 in the fuel allowance doesn’t go far enough either she feels.
“That doesn’t buy a bale of briquettes any more, you’d have to save four weeks to buy a bag of coal. I don’t use solid fuel so I’m not an authority on it, but I know a bag of coal is up on €20 now. Somebody said earlier on they could buy a cup of coffee with it.”
She said that the Government simply don’t care about older people at all.
“The Government have a national positive ageing plan but they’ve never implemented it. To be quite frank with you they seem to have forgotten us. 
“When we get to a certain age we’re forgotten, they’re really only waiting for us to die. If they could give us a pill at 65 and we’d go away, we’d be a bother to no one and it’d be great. That’s the feeling we’re getting.
“Those people that run our country, surely they have parents and grandparents, a lot of them are so young they’d have great grandparents. You’d imagine out of a modicum of respect that they’d look after the elderly.
“The elderly were always a vulnerable part of society, but we’re more vulnerable now, we’re nearly borderline poverty stricken.”
She said that any gains for older people will be more than wiped out by rises in the cost of living, particularly increases in the cost of electricity and heating.
“If they had even given a gesture of goodwill and taken away our prescription charges, just to show they care in some way, that would have been a help,” she said.

About Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.

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