07th Feb 2020
We asked women from all walks of life to talk about the issues that will influence their vote tomorrow
The hot-button issues of GE20 have been hammered out, yet it’s often local and livelihood issues that determine the way we cast our votes on the day. We brought together a group of 10 women to talk about the election issues that matter most to them.
‘I spend four hours a day commuting on public transport’ (Grace, 29)
“As someone who’s almost 30 and still living with my parents, housing and public transport are very important to me.
“While I both live and work in Dublin, my home and office are on opposite sides of the city and it takes two hours to commute each way (madness for any small European capital). That’s four hours a day, or 20 hours a week on Dublin Bus and Irish Rail. I did try living near work for a while, but the rental market pushed me back home.
“If I can’t live near the office, I’d at least like to be able to commute there more easily. I’ll be voting for candidates who make these issues a priority.”
‘These cuts perpetuate the poverty cycle and don’t give women like me a chance’ (Elaine, 34)
“I’m a lone parent to a nine-year-old boy and I feel like I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place. They say the changes to the One-Parent Family payment is designed to get women like me back into the workforce. What they forget is that it’s almost impossible to build a career or retrain when you are the sole guardian to a young child.
“My only option is lower-paid work which just about covers the cost of childcare. I’ll be voting for a party that understands that these cuts perpetuate the poverty cycle and don’t give people like me a chance to rise above their circumstances.”
‘My son is not guaranteed a place in the school we’d like to send him to’ (Ciara, 39)
“I’m mum to a three-year-old boy who will be starting school shortly, and despite his name being down in three primary schools, he is not guaranteed a place in any of them. Our local national school – Catholic – has, since last year, been amalgamated with the girls’ school, so instead of two girls’ schools and one boys’ school, it is one very large mixed school.
“I would rather send my son to a school that is not run by a religious order and where classroom sizes are smaller. Despite his name being down since he was one-year-old, he is only guaranteed a place in his local school.”
‘How are politicians going to help people in direct provision who are essentially surviving in the Magdalene Laundries of our time?’ (Olga, 39)
“At a time when citizens and residents of Ireland go to the ballot boxes to exercise their agency by voting to effect change, thousands of adult and child asylum seekers living in direct provision centres across the country have none because they are not allowed to vote in general elections. (They are allowed to vote in local elections.)
It’s been said time and time again that these human beings will receive a State apology in years to come
“The problems with direct provision have been well recorded and I’m interested in solutions. It’s been said time and time again that these human beings will receive a State apology in years to come and that the centres are the Magdalene Laundries of our time. I want to know what the views of the candidates in my constituency are on direct provision and specifically what tangible steps they would take to end such an abhorrent system and give agency back to our new friends.”
‘GP visits and prescription meds are so costly’ (Lucy, 43)
“It’s very difficult to single out just one issue that needs addressing in GE20 — from the housing crisis to parental/childcare, from climate change to the unknown impact of Brexit on trade, they are all pressingly important. However, as a Brit once cushioned by the NHS during my formative years, Ireland’s healthcare system is one of my biggest pet peeves right now.
“In middle age, my ailments are becoming more plentiful, obviously, and, because GP visits and prescription meds alone are so costly, it’s a case of weighing up exactly which one can I endure more than the other as I just can’t afford to treat them all.
After paying privately to have a small camera stuck up my nostrils (€200), I was referred for a CT scan
“For instance, I was long-ago diagnosed with chronic rhinitis – all-year-round hay fever, essentially – and have subsequently been managing it with various nasal sprays and antihistamine products. And, like with most meds, the more you use, the less effective they are over time. These days I can’t even get so much as a cough without it turning into a full-blown sinus infection that drags on for several weeks, and so, after paying privately to have a small camera stuck up my nostrils (€200), I was referred for a CT scan.
“This was nearly four years ago and so my default quality of life consists of regular headaches, facial pressure, blocked or popping ears and low energy, that are occasionally alleviated with short blasts of antibiotics. Until the next flare-up. Beaumont Hospital rang me last month, to say they were outsourcing patients to Bon Secours and did I still need the scan. YES! I DO! I shouted, over the fug of my blocked ears. I suspect I will now be on their waiting list for the foreseeable future.”
‘Rural Ireland needs genuine support’ (Edaein, 25)
“I currently live in Dublin and the majority of my monthly paycheck goes towards paying my rent and that is before bills and travel expenses enter the equation. My rent is now increasing by 5% this month and while it may not sound like a lot, it will put a significant dent in my bank account.
“I am in my mid-twenties and can’t save a dime because of this. Dublin is where my job is and I want to further my career but current living prices are extortionate and will force me to move countries at some point in the future.
The current government has forgotten about what lies beyond the motorways.
“Secondly, my heart lies in rural Ireland. It was where I was born and raised and at some point, I hope to settle there permanently. However, it irks me that it has been pushed to the side in favour of more urban areas. It is a pool of talent and potential but the current government has forgotten about what lies beyond the motorways.
“My generation can’t stay there and eventually, we won’t be able to return. When I hear certain TD’s making calls for wolves to be introduced to the wild because that is what rural Ireland needs or use carpooling in villages as a resolve to both climate change and an invisible transport system, it shows complete disregard to what these communities need.
“What rural Ireland needs is better transport and infrastructure, investment, healthcare services and genuine support. I will be voting for candidates who realise this.”
How are politicians going to prevent another teenager being killed/groomed into gangland on our streets?” (Eva, 29)
“Since I can only afford to buy a house in what are considered ‘disadvantaged areas’, I would like my local candidates – many of whom have been local councillors in the area in previous roles – to tell me how their policies are tackling youth education and facilities in the area.
“There are currently no public after-school activities for children, be that community centres, playgrounds, mental health facilities, training workshops, or anywhere they can spend time other than the streets. There has been no investment in youth projects in my area and I would like the candidate looking for my vote to tell me how they’re going to prevent another teenager being killed/groomed into gangland on our streets.”
‘There needs to be more resources for mental health and age-related health problems, instead of just sending everyone to A&E’ (Erin, 25)
“I think the issues that matter most to me at this election is an overhaul of the healthcare and housing systems. I’m incredibly lucky to be in a good position with housing in Dublin, but I am very aware that my situation is not the norm, especially when so many of my friends and co-workers are struggling to just get by.
“I really believe that if you work full-time, there is no circumstance where you shouldn’t be able to afford a decent place to live, food and transport, and have a little left to save. That seems like the bare minimum for a functioning first-world society, and yet it’s still not being met.
Society doesn’t work unless there are people looking out for those that can’t do it themselves.
“My family and I have direct experience of the public health system, and it worries me that in order to receive the healthcare that you’re entitled to, it’s almost a full-time job being your own advocate. You have to double-check any appointments, push for consultations, constantly push back when details are wrong, wait for months for an appointment that may be urgent, etc.
“The middle-management in the HSE is saturated, while there aren’t enough doctors and nurses to go round. Things need to flip, and there needs to be more resources for mental health and age-related health problems, instead of just sending everyone to A&E.
“It worries me talking to people of a slightly older generation that everyone seems to be out for themselves when it comes to elections. Those voting for Fine Gael and Fianna Fail are doing so because they like their higher-paying jobs and comfortable way of life and don’t want it to change. I understand that, and in many cases, it won’t change, but I also think that looking out for the most vulnerable in our society is just as important. Society doesn’t work unless there are people looking out for those that can’t do it themselves.”
‘The inefficacy of the Children’s Court System, which primarily sees teens walk away from often very serious crime, has resulted in a situation where young men no longer fear punishment’ (Edel, 42)
“I recently bought a house in a predominantly disadvantaged area and I have witnessed some pretty shocking criminal behaviour among the young men and children in the locality — dangerous joy riding, burglary, violence, intimidation of shop keepers of different ethnicities, to lower grade stuff like egging and sexual harassment.
“The Gardaí, when called, tell us there is little they can do about it and actively dissuade us from pursuing anything through the justice system lest the intimidation increase.
“The inefficacy of the Children’s Court System, which primarily sees teens walk away from often very serious crime, has resulted in a situation where young men no longer fear punishment. Last year, criminal violence claimed the lives of five men in Dublin, which in recent weeks has seen a criminal feud in Drogheda spill over into its neighbourhood.
“There is a complete absence of a co-ordinated State response. I want election candidates to tell me what is their plan for the potential criminals of the future? How are they dealt with within this system so we don’t encourage people into criminality? I would like the candidate looking for my vote to tell me what their plan is to tackle youth crime which is leaving people feeling utterly powerless and intimidated in their own homes?” (Edel, 42)
‘Young adults can no longer depend on their parents for shelter’ (Aoife, 27)
“My partner and I are engaged. He (32) lives with his parents and I live with friends in a commuter town outside of Dublin. We can’t afford to start our lives together.
“Even if we tried to rent a place, we’d struggle to save for a deposit because neither of our wages are high enough to pay rent and save. Candidates need to commit to affordable housing and act on it fast. I’m not the only one in this situation.
“We can no longer depend on our parents for shelter.”
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