Muintir president says heart of rural Ireland weakened by austerity

The President of Tippeary Town-based Muintir na Tire John Hogan has highlighted the real issues that many Communities and their members are faced with at this time. The reality on the ground is that many families have no more to give after what has been one of the most challenging budgets that our country has ever seen.

The President of Tippeary Town-based Muintir na Tire John Hogan has highlighted the real issues that many Communities and their members are faced with at this time. The reality on the ground is that many families have no more to give after what has been one of the most challenging budgets that our country has ever seen.

Mr Hogan says - The figures are stark. We cannot claim that unemployment numbers are decreasing when 87,000 of our young people have left this country over the past 12 months alone.

We cannot claim that we are ready to deliver much needed sustainable jobs, when very many small businesses are just holding on by a thread, against the backdrop of upward only rent reviews. This government made a commitment to tackle this blatant structured inequality and to date have not delivered. The thousands of small firms that are employing 3 and 4 employees are the bedrock of our economic survival, and must be proactively supported by all the agencies of the state.

325,000 Of our citizens are currently unemployed and a staggering 60% of those are classified as long term unemployed. The unemployment crisis is a major factor in the spiralling rate of mortgage debt arrears. Many families have now reached breaking point and an increasing number of mortgage holders have either used up personal savings or the goodwill of family members in order to keep their mortgage payments current.

Of the 900,000 mortgage holders in the state, 20% have been restructured and are not now paying on their original terms, whilst 11.3% or close 100,000 mortgages are in arrears of 90 days or more. This figure doesn’t include those in arrears of less than 90 days, or those that have already done deals with banks and are paying less than their full mortgage rates.

Muintir na Tire supports the ongoing work of New Begining . New Begining was set up to provide protection for hard hit home-owners in Ireland. New Begining is a group of lawyers, business people, and concerned citizens set up to help mortgage holders who face imminent repossession orders but have no legal representation.

Muintir further supports the intention of New Begining to mount test cases which will establish whether lending institutions had a duty of care to borrowers and whether this duty was breached by excessive and negligent lending practices.

12% of our population is aged 65 or over, however in many of our rural communities that percentage figure can be as high as 18% and indeed over 20% in some isolated areas.

The accelerated planned closure of over 100 rural garda stations, at a time when the first 3 months of 2012 has seen a dramatic increase in home burglaries has resulted in fearful older rural citizens.

The fear in many rural homes is palpable and a ritual of never ending checking to see if their homes are properly secure.

Muintir na Tíre welcomes the Minister for Justice confirmation that 170 new garda vehicles are ready to be rolled out.

Muintir na Tire has operated a very successful partnership with an Garda Siochana over the past 25 years with the Community Alert Programme.

Community Texting is the latest initiative that Community Alert Groups are seeking support, from both Muintir na Tíre and An Garda Siochana .The partnership between Muintir Na Tire and An Garda Siochana has worked positively in implementing the Community Alert programme, and a similar partnership will ensure the success of the Community Texting Initiative.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our many volunteers who daily visit the older and more vulnerable members of their communities to ensure they are ok. A kind word, a kind deed can mean so much to somebody who is alone at this time of year. This work is one of the cornerstones of the Community Alert programme. Muintir na Tire has over the years provided an invaluable help line to those isolated and needing urgent attention during periods of extremely harsh weather conditions utilising its Community Alert volunteer network. This service will continue to be available if and when required.

The biggest challenge facing our people today is not just the economy but how we create a just, inclusive and cohesive society based on the core values of justice, equality, fairness, and compassion.

We the Board of Directors of Muintir na Tíre acknowledge the valuable contribution of Martin Lonergan who is a member of Goatenbridge/Ballybacon Community Alert in South Tipperary. Mr Lonergan is the National Secretary of Muintir na Tíre and a Director. He continues to serve diligently in his local community.