Fergus Finlay speaking on RTÉ Radio 1’s Drivetime 22/04/2009
I met the Senior Citizens’ Parliament last Friday at their Annual Conference in Dublin. They are an impressive and determined group of people who have two aims, to be a strong voice representing Older People and their needs and to promote inter-generational solidarity.
Although God knows I am not far off being qualified to be a member of the Parliament, I was there because my day job involves supporting children and I wanted to suggest that at times like this all the generations should be working together.
What I found when I met the Parliament was a group of very angry people, they are still angry about last years Medical Card fiasco and determined it won’t happen again and they are equally angry about the decision in the Budget of a fortnight ago to deprive pensioners of the now well established Christmas bonus.
Their President, Sylvia Meehan, made the point passionately at the conference that this latest cut would mean that a lot of Irish pensioners, especially those who live alone will be colder and hungrier this year.
But when you speak to the Parliament member’s individually one thing becomes very clear, these are the people who never want to be a drain on the State. They are proud of the contribution they have made over their lifetime, raising families, holding down jobs, paying their taxes, involving themselves in all sorts of community activities. They have been through all the hardships of the past and they have paid their dues, what they want now and what they deserve is to be treated with respect.
There is one other thing that the members of that generation all have in common: ‘independence’, they are still more than prepared to carry their share of the burden and more than prepared to look after themselves and indeed in the times that we live in many of the Grandparents all are still contributing to the economy by enabling their children to participate.