| 13.7°C Dublin

Working families to keep calm, carry on and count blessings

Close

So many so-called ‘wet pubs’ remain closed all around the country

So many so-called ‘wet pubs’ remain closed all around the country

So many so-called ‘wet pubs’ remain closed all around the country

News that the squeezed middle, the so-called 'coping classes', did not receive any significant boosts in Budget 2021 did not come as a huge shock.

The Champagne corks are rarely popping in our house on the day the Finance Minister takes to the Dáil floor to deliver the Budget.

As working parents with three young children, we're of the generation that got hit with over-inflated mortgages for buying properties during the boom.

Then we had the catastrophic collapse of the economy in 2008 and the subsequent addition of the dreaded USC to bail out the banks.

Don't even get me started on the eye-watering cost of childcare in this country.

Mantra

To be honest, the last time we saw a direct Budget boost was in 2016 with the addition of an additional, wait for it, €5 in Child Benefit.

But something made me pause before I started in on my annual 'what about us?' mantra and complaining about the unfairness of societal expectations to just keep calm and carry on.

I began reflecting on those who have lost their jobs over the past couple of months, who are in danger of losing their homes and, most importantly, have lost loved ones to this deadly virus.

To date, there have been 1,830 deaths in this country during the worst pandemic in a century and there's no sign of a vaccine on the horizon.

While some kind of income tax breaks would have been welcome for any hard-pressed parents, this is not the year to expect any surprise handouts.

Finance Minister Pascal Donohoe's €17.75bn Budget quite rightly concentrated on helping the livelihoods decimated by the crisis.

There are more than 228,000 on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment, while there are over 211,000 on standard dole payments and the numbers are expected to rise even more over coming months.

Let's not forget, there are countless 'wet bars', restaurants, nightclubs and live music venues all over the country that closed their doors in early March and the shutters have not been pulled up since.

Nor is there any light on the horizon for them, or the many performers and backstage workers in the arts and music industries who don't know when the stages will be illuminated again.

The entire tourism industry is facing into an unprecedented crisis, with some hotels reporting they didn't have a single check-in last weekend. Hundreds of thousands of workers find themselves in sectors not allowed operate under current restrictions.

We have elderly people of my parents' generation who have had to lock themselves away again as the virus continues to take hold, denied even the simplest human touch from a grandchild.

Students

Also deserving of a mention are those much-maligned students starting college who've had to miss so many normal rites of passage over the past few months, from their graduation and Debs to their annual summer blow-outs.

As working parents, we have coped with home-schooling, lockdowns, cancelling every holiday and family event and now we're looking into a bleak winter without a proper Halloween and an uncertain Christmas.

But now is not a time for self-pity, for asking where's our slice of the pie or bemoaning our fate.

Instead, we must count our blessings, pray our families stay safe, put the shoulder to the wheel and just keep on carrying on. As a nation, it's what we do best.