Cost-of-living protest: Food shopping, rent and bills huge concerns among young and old

‘I had to leave... I couldn’t afford to stay here,’ says teenager who left to work in ‘more affordable’ Manchester

Father-of-four Thomas Dillon (42), who attended the cost-of-living protest in Dublin on Saturday with his partner and their baby, said the price of the family’s food shopping has “almost doubled”. This, along with energy bills and petrol prices, is contributing to his feeling that “things are getting out of hand”, he said as they walked with the masses along Parnell Square.

The plumber, from Finglas, does not like to see energy providers making a profit, when some workers are struggling, he added. Middle income earners are experiencing a “big hit” and receive little help, he said.

Dillon was one of an estimated 3,000 to turn out for the protest in Dublin city centre, organised by a coalition including Sinn Féin, People Before Profit, the Social Democrats and others.

Technology workers Ayush Vasudeva (25) and Druthi Conroy (27), said they have felt the pinch from the rise in electricity and grocery prices.


Conroy said the friends moved to Dublin from India four years ago “thinking we would have a better future”.

“Now we don’t see any hope anymore, because of inflation,” she said, adding that pay increases have not matched the rising cost of living.

Despite a relatively good salary, the renters have little to no ability to save, she went on. Vasudeva said people can make a collective difference by protesting and making their voices heard.

Bridget Moore (70) and Eddie Greene (75), from Finglas, said they have not turned on their heating yet and instead have invested in hot water bottles and extra blankets.

“There are people worse off than we are,” said Moore, who predicted the winter will squeeze those on low incomes and those with illnesses who need electrical equipment, such as dialysis machines.

Moore sees “greed” as the main cause of Ireland’s cost-of-living issues.

“I feel sorry for younger people who will never own their own homes,” said Moore, a retiree. Asked if the pair see a political party offering tempting solutions, she said: “Each is as bad as the other… they do nothing”.

UCD student Ben Ward (19), from Co Carlow, is only able to afford his €950 Dublin rent because his parents have saved for that reason, he said.

By contrast his friend Leanne Nolan, who works at a veterinary clinic, pays £550 per month including bills, for her room in Manchester and finds life much more affordable there.

“I had to leave. I couldn’t afford to stay here… I want to come home because I am homesick, and so is my sister in Australia,” the 19-year-old said.

Life in Ireland is too expensive, she added, and “there is only the government to blame”.

Ward, a Fine Gael member, believes any cost-of-living measures must strike a “balance”, and he would be against a complete cap on rents, which some advocate for.

“A lot of people talk about distributing wealth but not about how we generate that wealth in the first place,” he said.

Ward’s sign read: “Tax the profit, not the people”, reflecting his view that electricity companies and other firms should not benefit from increased profits when people are struggling to heat their homes, he said.

Recent UCD graduate Isabel Allen (23) sees housing as one of the biggest issues facing her friends.

“Even when I moved to Dublin [some years ago] prices were skyrocketing,” she said.

Allen believes she is “lucky” that her rent is manageable because her landlord is related to her friend.

“The only way people are getting rooms is through people they know, maybe they have a landlord in the family… That’s an exclusionary system,” she said.

The law and social justice graduate, who attended the rally with friends, is keen to see “change”, in the form of a left-wing government who will increase the social housing stock and get rid of “vulture funds”, she said.

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan is an Irish Times reporter