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'I have never felt so strongly wronged by those who represent our country'

Here I am, feeling like a second-class citizen in my own country, crying over a water meter. Do the politicians I voted for even care?



As Irish Water cut up my road to install the meter that I most certainly don’t believe should be there, I am thinking back on how I feel about all that has happened in the past few years and I am struggling more than ever to feel like a person who belongs in this country or who is cared about by the politicians I voted for – and, yes, I voted for both Labour and Fianna Fail.

I lost my full-time job and became part-time after the introduction of VAT to an industry that was most savagely ravaged by the recession. Being a lone parent, I needed assistance and I found myself partially on social welfare supplementing my wage to make ends meet.

I have a mortgage on a home I worked damn hard for, even though I could have possibly requested one from the county council with my “single parent” label. The house is now valued less than my mortgage balance.

I feel like a second-class citizen

So here I am, feeling like a second-class citizen in my own country, crying over a water meter and not only because my daughter and I printed our hands in the cement out the front years ago and it was ripped up during the installation while I wasn’t here, but because I am facing another yet another bill and being taken off Lone Parents’ Allowance due to social welfare changes. So, yes, some of you out there will think ‘Sure, she’s getting money for nothing so the cuts are fair, take them off her’. Well…

  1. I have worked full-time since I left school and paid all my tax and government applied duties for over a decade.
  2. Since being made part-time I took on additional jobs where I could find them and returned to college part-time and full-time over a three year basis to increase my employability.
  3. I have never been unemployed, although that in itself was a struggle.

And I could go on but here is one of the reasons I feel like a second-class citizen. I feel the need to justify my working career and subsequent reductions in work because I have been made feel like a leech on society by my very own government – and never more so than during this water fiasco.

Waste, cost, and blatant disrespect 

I don’t believe in the water charges because I have been paying for water through my motor tax since I was 17 years old. Talk of leaks in the network have been spoken of since I can remember but never has the work been done to fix this; should our network already be sound, I may not feel so annoyed by the charge.

Secondly, the cost. The sheer wastefulness of the cost of setting up Irish Water in such a rushed manner also made me feel so angry at the ridiculousness of it all (just as ridiculousness as the wasted money for the children’s hospital which still does not exist after millions spent). The government’s gung-ho attitude of “build it and they will come” without what seemed like any care or real consideration for us, the people, also frustrated me. After years of accepting debt, cuts, taxes and decisions we had no say in, this was the final straw for me.

Their subsequent half-assed attempts to redeem the situation with a pat on the head yet lacking any real guarantees just made me feel sick. The TDs I voted in then belittled those of us who don’t think it’s right, made me feel like scum, actually scum, for having an opinion, and then eventually ignoring us in the hope we would just disappear. I haven’t been able to march with the people because I have been working on those occasions but I will do my best to be available for the next one. I don’t by any measure believe in violence or agree with some of the protesters’ methods, but I also don’t think it’s fair how the people have been represented.

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I kept my mouth shut because of stigma

I have never felt so strongly wronged by those who represent our country. I never felt so badly represented by our media and belittled by people I actually voted for.

Being in receipt of a social welfare payment, I kept my mouth shut for fear of the stigma that some citizens and TDs apply to it. I have become second-class, second-rate, and a voice that should be ignored for I have no right to complain in their eyes. But, logically, those on lower incomes are going to be the majority of people who stand against this because we on the breadline are crumbling under the financial pressure. I personally am beginning to fall behind and will probably collapse come July when my Lone Parent Allowance is gone.

I would sell my house in a second if it could pay off the mortgage, I apply for jobs every day, and paying again for a service is so frustrating and maddening. I have absolutely no guarantee of my financial future and what the costs of water and taxes will be in the years to come.

I am frightened. I am frightened that I won’t be able to send my child to college, thus restricting her future into the small hole mine is becoming. I am sad that my child can’t have the things she wants or what others have. I am embarrassed by my situation and I am hurt by those who supposedly represent us.

The author wishes to remain anonymous.

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