on the ground

Outside Dublin: How Budget 2014 will affect us all paid a visit Cork to see what the city’s hopes and fears are ahead of this week’s budget.

BUDGET 2014 IS looming closer.

The decisions on what to cut, what to raise and where to raise it, are being decided in Dublin’s Leinster House.

These choices made in the capital will affect individuals across the entire country, in small villages and large towns. decided to head outside of Dublin, and south to Ireland’s “other” capital, Cork city, to find out the hopes and fears of people there ahead of next week’s Budget, and how they feel the city has fared over the past five years.

Our daily bread (and meat and fish and veg and….)

The English Market is a hub of commercial activity, and has been for over two hundred years.

Stall and shop owners there have a finger on the pulse of consumers, and have noticed a change over the past few years in shoppers.

Some feel that the worst is over, but most believe that the government needs to take some measures to put more money in people’s pockets.

Hear their views below:


You may recongise one fishmonger from his meeting with a certain English monarch.

Those in “despair” now coming from all demographics

Some have been affected far more than others by the economic downturn of the past few years.

Those working on the frontline with those struggling to make ends have seen poverty spread across more and more demographics.

There has been a dramatic rise in homelessness across Ireland. When launching a recent report, Eddie Hogan of the Cork Simon Community noted that their emergency shelter was running at over full capacity every night, and that “any budget cut would seriously undermine our ability to make any progress”.

The report details the issues affecting those attending the centre, 92 per cent of which were without a source of income.


Most common issues affecting people unemployed who attended the emergency shelter. Click here for a larger version. (Image Credit: Cork Simon Community)

Cork Penny Dinners on Little Hanover Street began as Quaker-run soup kitchens during the Great Famine and is now the city’s “oldest independent charity”.

The centre provides a midday meal to those in need. The numbers requiring this service every week has risen by hundreds over the past few years.

Caitriona Twomey, volunteer co-ordinator with Penny Dinners, told about the difficulties being faced for those struggling to make ends meet.

“There are gaps and no continuity in some of the services offered to those in need,” she said, “they might arrive to the door and be told to come back in two weeks time.

“Someone needs to be starting a task force, and gathering people from different services, sitting them down, and asking what do we need to do to make things easier for those hungry or on the streets.”

Caitriona, along with volunteer Gary, noted the rise in numbers attending the centre, the change in demographics, and, most of all, the despair they see people facing on a day-to-day basis.


Call for “stimulus package” for the county

Many towns and cities have felt, and are still feeling, the bite of recession.

The Lord Mayor of Cork City Catherine Clancy said that around the city many shop units are lying empty, sometimes many on the one street. To combat this, she says she would like to see a stimulus package  tailored for individual counties or cities in Budget 2014.

However, she said that sentiment on the ground was the situation has “levelled out”, but there is a fear among those relying on state pensions that it may be cut in this week’s Budget.


The Cork Chamber of Commerce echoed the Lord Mayor’s call for a stimulus package, to encourage job growth and job creation in other regions.

“We are starting to see a turn, there are some positive signs out there,” Conor Healy told, “Feedback from our members, and from members of Chambers all around the country, is that people are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel”.

He said that the most important thing in this week’s budget for businesses is that any measures which will increase operational costs or the cost of employing new people are avoided.


What about your county?

What applies to Cork can apply to many other cities, towns, and villages across the country. Has your area seen the situation ‘level out; over the past year? Are things getting worse? What measures could change the situation? Have your say in the comments below.

More: Follow our coverage of Budget 2014 here >

Look: 11 photos that will make you want to travel every inch of Ireland >

Read: 11 reasons why Cork might actually be better than Dublin >

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