Single Parent: ‘I think this Government has governed disgracefully’

Meet the Voters: Ruth Cullen has three children. ‘I find the cost of living very difficult’

Ruth Cullen: ‘I am constantly having to rob Peter to pay Paul. One thing I really worry about is my car. I have to have the car, but it’s struggle paying for it’

Ruth Cullen: ‘I am constantly having to rob Peter to pay Paul. One thing I really worry about is my car. I have to have the car, but it’s struggle paying for it’

 

This article is part of The Irish Times Meet the Voters series, profiling 10 sample voters in a bid to track the impact of the 2016 General Election campaign on their voting intentions.

Ruth Cullen (44) lives in Kildare and has three children aged 19, 15 and 11. She is a single mother and full-time carer, in receipt of the Carers Allowance.

For me accessing services, for my family, in particular for my son, is the biggest challenge. He is my youngest and has a severe speech and language disability.

In effect he cannot understand language and needs intense speech and language therapy, of which there is none in Kildare.

He suffers with anxiety and has suicidal thoughts. He has had to travel to Tallaght, an 80km round-trip, three times a week to get speech and language therapy, and that was making him sick.

In addition, my daughter (15) has rare condition, scleroderma, and has to go into Crumlin three times a week for IV drugs and physiotherapy. Scleroderma is chronic systemic auto-immune disease characterised by hardening of the skin. Her right foot is rock hard already and I am terrified for her.

I was in college but had to defer to look after my kids. I feel there’s very little support.

My eldest daughter is in NUI Maynooth. It’s wrong that parents can’t get child benefit for children who turn 18, even if they’re in full-time education. I mean my daughter is still at home, still needs my support.

I find the cost of living very difficult. I am constantly having to rob Peter to pay Paul. One thing I really worry about is my car. I have to have the car, but it’s struggle paying for it - the NCT, the tax, insurance, servicing it, petrol.

But I have to have it. There is no bus from Kildare to Crumlin, so I have to keep that car on the road.

I have become very politicised. Since the downturn I think a lot of people who would not have been interested in politics have become active in politics. I have friends who are working full-time who are living in poverty.

I have spoken at protests against cuts to the lone-parents allowance and am involved in the DCA Warriors. There are 8,000 members now and we fights cuts to the domiciliary care allowance.

I get a lot of my information from social media and communicate with people via Twitter. It’s a great platform. I do watch the news on RTÉ but I wouldn’t trust that I’m getting the full story.

I would have voted Labour in the past, would have been an admirer of Joan Burton, but I think this Government has governed disgracefully. They haven’t even listened to people who were crying out. We are so angry at the deep pain that has been inflicted.

I am very lucky with the candidates in Kildare. We have Catherine Murphy (Social Democrats) and Brendan Young (Independent). I’ll be voting them first and second preferences.

Constituency: Kildare North

Ruth Cullen was in conversation with Kitty Holland

irishtimes.com/election-2016/meet-the-voters

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