'I need my medical card . . . we want to live with dignity'
Annie Crean (80) is a widow who lives alone in Ballymun, Dublin and has spoken to The Irish Times about her fears for next week's budget.
“My house is 40 years old and it’s paid off,” she says. “It’s a three-bedroom house with living room, kitchen, and dining room. I can only afford to heat part of it. My pension is €240 a week, and fuel allowance is €20 a week.”
Throughout the year, Crean puts her full fuel allowance to her gas bill.
This winter, like last winter, she spends most time when in the house in the living room, which she heats. “When I leave the living room, it’s like walking into Antarctica.”
She also heats her bedroom, dining room, and whenever her grandson comes to stay she heats the box room for him.
“It would be more efficient to move my bed downstairs and sleep in the living room, but I am not prepared to do that,” she says.
Her heating is via gas. Last winter, the bill from November to January was €460. She fears a reduction in the fuel allowance, but her biggest worry about the budget is loss of the free travel pass.
“If they take that away, we’ll all be prisoners,” she says. “We won’t be able to leave our houses. I go out a lot . . . visiting. I’m in a heated atmosphere . . . on a bus.”
Crean says that pensioners like herself also avail of the travel pass to get around to shop in a range of different supermarkets. “The Government is always talking about the price of drink. The price of drink is not relevant to us. The price of the cheapest bread and the cheapest butter is.”
She says she is “absolutely dreading” the budget. “Keeping the travel pass should be a priority and please, please don’t cut our pensions because we are only existing at the moment. I need my medical card. We want to live with dignity in our old age. We don’t want to be in fear of our old age.
“We’re living longer and the Government doesn’t seem to be able to cope with that. I think we are a burden on the Government. They look on us as a burden, but we are the ones who kept this country going. I am so angry. We should not have to beg to keep what we have.”