Rather then focus on business growth and figures after figures the Government should examine the less fortunate and see how their lives have improved, and unfortunately everyday I do not see an improvement. I raised the issue of people who have been forced into homelessness living in shameful conditions last week and also the issue of zero hour/part time contracts. 25% of our labour force are earning an hourly rate less than the living wage threshold of €11.45. The hypocrisy of Government quoting unemployment figures, while standing over corporations treating low paid staff appallingly by offering them contracts that are meaningless and patronising; but as they are technically ‘employed’ the figures are totally distorted. Are corporations even paying the full 12.5% corporate tax? Why can’t we see exactly who is paying what, why is this not transparent? I see a housing crisis on all fronts; local authority, private rental and mortgage arrears that is receiving minimal attention and some long term plans that mean nothing to people suffering this crisis now.
It is claimed the economy is growing at the fastest rate in Europe with 4.8% in 2014. But it is meaningless unless people see an improvement in the money they take home in wages, social welfare benefit or pension. Until then the percentages and the statistics come across as pure rhetoric and propaganda. To what effect will 4% growth have on those public servants whose salaries generally are down 14%, on those whose pensions have been decimated, those other groups in society who have really suffered, such as those with disabilities and housing issues, and in the areas especially of health and education? A new way of measuring society is needed as the current measure of ‘growth’ means nothing for a very large proportion of society that I represent. We see the use of the term ‘working poor’ which is disgraceful. Anyone who applies themselves to work and support their families should be given incentive and help by Government and centrally we need to focus more on a persons quality of living and less on the position of the country in European growth terms.
Certain people in society have all the power and lifestyle and the rest have virtually nothing after taxes and the increasing number of bills are paid. That is not the Ireland that was envisioned when this State was founded. The level of inequality in Ireland is coming close to US levels. Corporate profit is not a human right, but people and their rights to Housing, Health Care, Education, Employment, and a decent standard of living are. Growth should be measured by the welfare of the citizens and not by statistics and graphs.