Home Columnists Mary Theresa Lowndes: Poverty is the curse of society

Mary Theresa Lowndes: Poverty is the curse of society

My late father was a member of the old IRA. I remember when I was a child he used to tell me all about putting the Black and Tans out of our country.

I know that he and his comrades never for one minute thought that eventually the country would be ruled by an elite group of people who would pay themselves obscene salaries while homeless people died on the streets of Dublin and elsewhere.

We have a very greedy government who sanctioned a €16,000 pay rise for a third super junior minister on top of the €124,000 salary.

This means that all three super juniors would have enjoyed a massive salary of a whopping €140,000. But thanks to people power and plenty of pressure the situation has slightly changed.

The super juniors are now going to share two allowances of €16,000 between the three of them and not going to take the €16,000 approved for a third super junior.

They are still doing alright with an extra €32,000 between the three of them and they should give it back too, they have enough without it.

And we all know that all Irish politicians enjoy a massive amount of perks and paid expenses. All of this is a kick in the teeth to all the hard working people in our country.

Do we need junior ministers either super or unsuper? I believe we don’t need them at all. And the Greens certainly know how to waste tax payers money.

Eamon Ryan, Minister for Climate Action and Transport, is to have two chiefs of staff and as many as six special advisors according to Hugh O’Connell writing in the Independent.

And of course all the cabinet will have their advisers. Why do they need advisers? All ministers and junior ministers should be suitably qualified for their ministerial post and therefore there would be no need to appoint advisers.

But low and behold it has now been announced that the Taoiseach and Cabinet Ministers and all junior ministers are to take a 10% pay cut. We are not fools and 10% out of their massive salaries is nothing.

And according to the Irish Independent the present government will have more in their take home pay than the last government even with the 10% pay cut.

According to a report in the Guardian, the Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern “has said she and other ministers will take a 20% pay cut lasting six months to show solidarity with those affected by the coronavirus”.

This must have influenced our government but unlike Jacinda Ardern our lot are not doing this to show solidarity.

And they are not doing this for the love of Ireland or her people. They know that there is a fierce backlash after the €16,000 for the super juniors so they decided to take a 10% pay cut in the hope that the ordinary people will stay quiet and be happy.

After all sooner or later there will be another election. Just like all politicians Jacinda Ardern is earning an obscene salary too but in my opinion she is a great leader but that does not justify her obscene salary either.

€100,000 is enough for any professional to earn and it is plenty for a decent life.

These whopping obscene salaries are not morally right while there is so much poverty in the country.

We know that poverty and deprivation severely impacts mental and physical health leading to a reduced life span.

According to research disadvantaged people may have a poor diet and be more inclined to smoke, abuse alcohol and other substances. Poverty seriously impacts educational outcomes.

Education is the way out of poverty but educational achievement is very difficult for the poor.

Underprivileged children may have parents with many problems and who lack the vision and the academic skills to guide their children’s education and to teach their children life skills to prepare them for the world.

This is a cruel drawback with adverse life long consequences. And disadvantaged children will also lack the necessary cultural and social capital to advance in life. And poor people often live in very deprived areas which is a huge disadvantage.

A report from the ESRI states that low paid workers like cleaners, housekeeping staff, and carers amongst others are at very high risk of severe illness from Covid-19.

People seem to take these workers for granted but they do very essential work for the benefit of the economy. And they create wealth for the elite. Many of them are older, living in deprived areas and suffer from underlying health problems.

Take for example cleaners. We all know from cleaning our own houses that cleaning is a boring and thankless job. Many older women work as cleaners and without them the country would be in chaos.

The national minimum wage is only €10.10 per hour since February 1st 2020.

If you are under twenty years of age you are not entitled to the full minimum wage. If you work for a close relative such as your husband, wife, partner or parents you are not entitled to the minimum wage.

All of this is very unfair and needs to be changed. The minimum wage should be at least €15.50 per hour.

And in my opinion it is never right to blame the poor for their poverty because If you are born to unemployed parents with alcohol or substance abuse problems you don’t stand much of a chance in life.

And if you are born to parents with little or no life skills you don’t stand much of a chance in life either. And the poverty and deprivation can be passed down through the generations bringing nothing but pain, sadness and heartache.

There is awful inequality in our country and it is morally wrong. The government needs to get serious about stamping out poverty, but our government politicians lack empathy and understanding.

To defeat poverty and disadvantage the government needs to step in and see that children’s educational and psychological development is fully looked after from birth.

But I can’t see that happening and young people will continue to suffer.

But it is great to see peaceful, people power holding the government to account over their huge salaries and allowances and getting results, be they ever so small. Long may it continue.

SEE ALSO – EXPLAINED: What are the restrictions in Laois, Offaly and Kildare for new lockdown?

Previous articleFr Paddy: John Hume – An Instrument of Peace
Next articleGAA instruct all Laois clubs to shut facilities as lockdown to last for 16 days
Mary Theresa Lowndes describes herself as a 'Golden Oldie' living in her 60s. She went to college late in life as a mature students and has a degree in Sociology and Social Policy from Trinity College and a masters in journalism from DIT.