SIR – This is the text of a letter written to Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar: ‘I am Michael O’Donovan. I want people to know the austerity packages that the state old age pensioners are living with.
I am dictating to my granddaughter Lauren to write this for me. I am 93 years old and totally blind for reading, writing and dialing. I am in good health thank God. I can move around in the shadows I remember.
I am a Type 2 diabetic, receiving 10 medical items per month. When the recession set in, I had to pay €2.50 which amounted to €25 a month. Two years ago, in the budget, that charge was reduced to a family charge of €25 a month.
In the current budget this family tax will be reduced to €20 a month. I will be getting a €20 a month increase on my pension and I won’t be gaining one cent from the budget. The increase I am getting with one hand is taken away with the other in tax.
The most penal austerity of all on old age pensioners was the removal of the telephone grant; removed and forgotten. The telephone was the only lifeline many pensioners had with the outside world, and the government could not pay the packages to keep the phone active.
Many of those people living alone need some comfort. Those people are sitting there, looking at the telephone hanging idly on the wall, thinking and pining for the times that were so good. It’s a disgraceful situation for any old person to be living in.
In our community, many people were affected by austerity packages. All the packages are completely cleared up and refunded. It appears to me that the voiceless, helpless old people will carry their austerity to the grave.
I am never done listening to our Taoiseach shouting about our booming economy in the world; would he ever tell the people that he is presiding over a government that is collecting income tax from old-aged people. I call on the Taoiseach and on all politicians to read the proclamation of our constitution before the Finance Bill is passed and to treat all the children of the nation equally.
I am proud to say I could have written all the above on the bible. I am going to sign my name from memory on the line pointed out to me.
Thank you my Dear Lord.’