Thursday, April 16, 2009

So this is Ireland then.

Once upon a time, not all that long ago, I made a decision upon finishing my degree that I would immediately find work and not, as many of my contemporaries did, flap about for a year and travel or wait for the dream job to come along.


The original ‘dream’ had been to be a writer and to take the first job that came along and, in my free time, write a book. The first job that came along was in admin and gradually grew to the point that, when I came home in the evenings I didn’t write, I can make an excuse and say I was tired or similar but the truth is that, in the face of day to day monotony, the ideas and will to write dried up.


I once found myself in a situation where the funding that paid for my accommodation while in college dried up and I found myself sitting in a pub with no money and no place to live. Luckily a friend took me in but I swore I would never find myself in that situation again, hence the immediate entry into the work force.


Some people thrive on the excitement of uncertainty; I like things to be secure and as a result am always slow to take any chances, making the conscious decision to accept a more static existence, albeit an occasionally boring one. This is an approach that I accepted in myself, looking for the things I love in life outside of my career. However this is also an approach that relied heavily on the stability of the economy, something I foolishly took for granted until recently.


In recent months the idea of my holding onto the job I took nearly three years ago has become unlikely, and even within it increasing taxes and levy’s have reduced my salary to the point where it no longer provides security.


All of this pushes a person into a corner, I’m currently looking for work elsewhere and overseas, which is a frightening prospect considering that I have always lived in Dublin and, with the exception of a few package holidays, have never had a huge urge to travel or leave the country… or even the city if I can help it!


This is one small ‘economic crisis’ story, and one of the less traumatic ones. Being young, having no children and only myself to support means that things will be okay for me, and I will do what I have to do to carry on. Everyday people are losing their jobs and facing cuts in their salaries and they can ill afford the added financial pressures that this creates for them. When the Taoiseach talks about everybody taking a 10% cut in their standard of living he does not acknowledge that, for many, a 10% cut means total devastation.


This too, as they say, shall pass, but the fallout from the current situation, the impact that it will have on families already struggling will last for years to come.


Like many who grew up in 80’s Ireland I remember when things were difficult before and realise how, with an improved economy, came improved education, understanding and tolerance in society. We began to break the chains that poverty, religion and narrow-mindedness had wrapped around Irish society and became a people in our own right, outside of a stereotype.


In the 80’s the eldest of my family left Ireland and went to the UK, building a life for herself there that now only briefly collides with the lives of the 4 sisters and 1 brother who stayed at home. I often wondered why she didn’t come home, because I am Irish and couldn’t imagine the urge to be anywhere else, now I am disillusioned with this country and, while I accept the need for steps to be taken to boost the economy, I despair at where these cuts are being made.


It is those in our society who have no voice, no power and the most need that are victimised by those who should protect them, as it was before, as it will always be, for ever and ever. (Amen)


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