Cost of living protests held across Ireland as inflation reaches four-decade high

·2-min read

Thousands took to the streets in Ireland after inflation surged to its highest level since the 1980s, prompting cost of living protests in cities across the country.

It rose to 8.3% in May, slightly higher than the EU average rate of 8.1%, according to Eurostat.

It has been caused mostly by the steep increase in fuel prices -- not just an Irish problem but a global one.

Gas prices are mainly to blame for the bump in living costs after the global economy revved up again when it emerged from the coronavirus pandemic. Russia, a major gas producer, invaded Ukraine in February further escalating prices.

On Saturday, union members, pensioners, opposition parties, and others gathered in Dublin to express their anger.

Phil Ní Sheaghdha from the Irish Nurses’ Union explained to Euronews how the hike in living expenses affects her union's members.

“It’s very difficult to retain nurses and midwives, particularly in large urban centres, where the cost of rent is taking well over 50% of their wages," she said.

"And then we have a huge issue with recruiting nurses from non-EU countries who come here. They look at their salary, they make big life decisions and then they realise they are paying more than 50% of that in rent (and) in transport.”

Civil servants are also now struggling to make ends meet.

“For many of our members who are in lower pay-scale groupings, the reality is rent, for instance, has become a major problem in this country, housing is a major problem," Eoin Ronayne from Forsa Trade Union said.

The Irish Cost of Living Coalition, or COLC, organised the protests to demand wage increases, rent control, and price controls on petrol and diesel.

It is urging the government to formulate an emergency budget to deal with the cost of living crisis.

“People have already lost thousands in income, we have record numbers of people who are homeless, we have people making choices between heating and food," Richard Boyd-Barrett from the far-left People Before Profit Party told Euronews.

The lack of affordable housing in Ireland has seen the number of homeless people increase dramatically in recent years, with a 90% rise among youth alone.

On Tuesday, Irish President Michael D. Higgins slammed the country's housing challenges as a "great, great failure", stating that it was "not a crisis, but a disaster" in an off-script speech at the opening of a facility for homeless youth near Kildare.

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