Thursday, March 12, 2015

LAST week, I referred to the €3,500 weekly wage earned by taoiseach Enda Kenny and wondered if he was worth it. Or, for that matter, anyone earning big bucks.

No doubt, there were many of you who swore neither he nor anyone else is worth that kind of money, while others genuinely believe it is all right for people to take home that amount.

One reader who contacted me afterwards wanted to highlight a few facts about elderly people living on a state pension. She also wondered how any of our politicians, including the taoiseach, would fare if they were forced to live on an annual pension of €12,751.60 (€258.30 a week), as a single person she knows is having to do.

The woman in question is Carmel Dawson from Tullow, a long-time activist in her local community, as well as a former ICA national president.

Now retired, Carmel continues to offer assistance to people in the Tullow area. When we got talking about the €3,500 weekly salary Mr Kenny gets, Carmel referred to a person for whom she recently did up a set of accounts.

This Joe Bloggs lives on his own, has no mortgage or loans and is not looking for assistance from anyone. But Carmel made the point that when he is finished paying all his bills, such as house insurance, monitored alarm, car tax and insurance, ESB, heating oil and, of course, food – the list goes on and on, as it does for all of us –he is left with a yearly balance of just €1,902.06, or €36.57 a week.

Lest you think the man is living the high life, let me clarify that the amount included in his annual accounts was a mere €2,555, or slightly less than €50 a week, or the grand sum of €7.14 a day.

Carmel also pointed out the necessity for this man, who is in his 70s, to maintain a car, bearing in mind he has had three heart attacks as well as having a knee replacement.

“This man has never asked for anything and isn’t asking for it now either,” Carmel emphasised. However, she stressed that even as a non-drinker and non-smoker he cannot afford simple things such as playing bingo, the lotto or going on any kind of holiday.

“Compare those figures with the salaries of TDs or government ministers, who tell us they understand Joe’s needs,” she says. “I would love to see one of them try to live like Joe,” Carmel added.

As with the last general election, all the promises will begin to be made over the coming months, However, I thought it interesting to publish the figures Carmel gave me. Equally, anyone who knows Carmel will also know she is a Fianna Fáil supporter, but she was quick to add that she would challenge all politicians to do well to remember Joe and what he has to live on when they come knocking on doors in search of those valuable votes in the not-too-distant future.

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By Michael Godfrey
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