“Eaten bread is soon forgotten”.
Eugene (Surname known but withheld) got his correspondence from Irish Water this morning, pushed through the letterbox in the door of his home here in Co Tipperary. (I sometimes regret we called ourselves Thurles.Info as we get more email communications than a citizens advice bureau.)
Eugene hasn’t opened his correspondence yet, (See Picture taken today).
Eugene began his working career in the summer of 1964. His take home wages for a 50 hour week in a shop back then was £3.6.4., after he had paid his then Social Welfare Stamp. His damp accommodation, which consisted of one room, cost him £1.10.0. per week, including electricity, no cooker and a communal bathroom on the next landing. His remaining salary was used to buy food and allowed also for one trip to the cinema on a Sunday night.
Moving from job to job in search of better payment opportunities Eugene eventually settled here in Co Tipperary and married in mid 1970. He purchased his present small two bed roomed home for £8000.00 one year later, despite constant refusals by banks and other lending agencies, who deemed his income of £60.00 per week, at that time, too small to meet annual repayments. His then employer, anxious not to lose a hard-working loyal employee, had a quite but threatening word with the local bank manager, former guaranteeing to meet any shortfall in the case of future default.
House then purchased, Eugene and wife went on to raise six children, educating four of them to the very highest standards. Two of their children however were born mildly handicapped and today still remain residing at their parents home, an address from which they have never relocated.
At no time ever in their lives have Eugene or his wife ever been arrested, sold drugs, collected Social Welfare Payments, Carers Allowance, Free Travel, Unemployment Benefit or any of the allowances which are their entitlements, in respect of their handicapped children. Both parents, as PAYE workers, have always paid, in full, all taxes down through the years, claimed by the Irish State.
“We made a conscious decision, if possible at all, never to be a burden on the Irish State,” Eugene informed me today.
Eugene currently takes care of his two children and his wife on one standard old age pension around €200 per week. Despite working uninterrupted for some 50 years for various employers and contributing hugely not only to Irish State coffers, but also hugely to the local community, imagine his surprise on receiving the above correspondence, which cannot simply identify his very existence.
“Not that it matters, we won’t be able to afford to pay for water until my wife gets her old age pension in 3-4 years time.” Eugene states with a shameful apologetic tone in his voice. “I’ve lost my independence, I feel a failure. Years ago taxes were levelled on a man’s ability to pay. Rheumatism has me crocked, and despite all the stamps and PRSI I paid down the years, I don’t even have access to a doctor, an optician or a dentist any more, without ready cash in hand.” Eugene continued. “My family doctor requires €50 every three months just to renew children’s prescriptions and I must travel a 118 mile round trip to attend my local hospital,” he states.
It would appear that our Irish Free State government, through Irish Water, have forgotten one more pair of hands that once helped keep a nation fed, yet who sought nothing in return, and Eugene is not the only one.
We have advised Eugene with regards to his true entitlements, with the warning that he may have to fight in order to gain that which is his true entitlement.
Time for that “Lion To Roar”!