A bitter pill to swallow – are we taking too many prescription pills?

When I was young the only pill I remember hearing about was Aspro.  Today we have a pill for every ill.  If it’s what the doctor prescribed, well then it is ok. Or is it?  Are we taking too much for granted and thinking doctors know it all?  Seeing that everyone over 65 years of age now takes between two and seven prescription pills every day, maybe we should all take more responsibility for fully understanding the consequences of prescription drugs and their use and misuse. The largest numbers of drug users in the country are always those on prescribed drugs and according to the National Advisory Committee on Drugs (NACD) more people die from prescription drugs than all other drugs combined, including heroin and cocaine. That is a challenging statistic. Statistics also show that people over 65 consume more than 30% of all prescribed medicine and purchase 40% of all over the counter (OTC) medications.

So who are the beneficiaries?  In 2012 the top 11 global drug companies made 85 billion dollars nett profit.  This is surely a flabbergasting and immoral reality.  Let me just take one example of a drug to show you why this happens. In Europe the prescription cost for Nexium,  a commonly prescribed drug used to reduce acid in the stomach, is on average €20.  In the USA it costs a whopping 187 dollars, six times more than in Spain, France, the UK and Ireland.  Consumers are being ripped off by greedy drug companies.  On top of that, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO)  more than 50% of all medicines prescribed or dispensed are wasted. Furthermore half of all patients fail to take medicines correctly resulting in further huge wastage, thus  increasing the vast amounts of medication that is manufactured. This adds further to the coffers  of drug companies.

In every country a substantial amount of healthcare budgets are spent on medication (between 10 and 40%)  which means that lots of waste costs taxpayers billions, and reduces the health budget available for other areas.   In the USA alone, 175,000 adults age 65 and over are seen every year in emergency departments due to adverse reactions to drugs taken, and every year around 106,000 senior people die from prescription drug use. In addition, some prescribed medications have mind altering substances which lend themselves to abuse.

The most commonly abused substances by teenagers and adults  in the USA are over the counter and prescription drugs.  There is evidence that the same statistics apply across every country. So what are the drugs prescribed that may be abused?

Opioids:  for pain relief,

Benzodiazopines: for anti-depressants, anxiety,  sedation and tranquilisers,

Stimulants: for ADHD,  sleep  disorders and obesity.

There is a misconception about the safety of prescribed drugs because they are given by a doctor and are assumed safe to take. In the USA between 1991 and 2010 prescriptions for stimulants  increased  from 5 million to 45 million and for opioids  from 75.5 million to 209.5 million.  Such a vast escalation of these drugs comes with serious risks to peoples mental and physical health.  Take for example the abuse of painkillers which when  coupled with alcohol or other drugs, greatly affects the respiratory system. This can, and does cause death. The unintentional overdose of pain killers has quadrupled since 1999 and these deaths now outnumber deaths from heroin and cocaine combined.  Antidepressants can cause withdrawal symptoms and people can suffer life threatening seizures, psychosis, and heart complications. A recent report showed that 50% of young people who inject heroin had abused pain killers beforehand.

When someone is dependent on drugs they will experience withdrawal symptoms when they are stopped abruptly or even reduced and dependence is often accompanied   by tolerance or the need to take higher doses to get the same effect.

In Ireland the misuse of benzodiazepines is a significant problem according to a report in 2002.  Dr. Suzi Lyons, Senior Researcher with the Health Research Board said that while they are considered safe for short term use, the risk of over use, abuse and dependence is well documented.  Diazepam is the drug most misused and is the most widely prescribed. The  Medical  Research Board found that 1 in 10 people on medical cards were being  prescribed  benzodiazepines and this results in more abuse and deaths.  While these drugs are safe for the effective treatment of anxiety, insomnia, and seizures, their overuse and dependence by people is a matter of grave concern.  A recent report by the Irish Examiner from figures derived from the Primary Care Re-Imbursement Service, (PCRS) show an increase in one brand of benzodiazepines from 283,000 to 383,000 prescriptions over the space of three years. Latest statistics from the Health Research Board shows an increase in numbers seeking treatment and dying from the use of benzodiazepines and these drugs are implicated in one third of all deaths by poisoning. Twice as many women as men die as  a result of their use. In the UK the prescribing of Benzodiazepines have been substantially reduced,  with  some brands removed completely from pharmacists.

Women are more likely than men to misuse prescription drugs. The Ballymun  Action Project carried out in 2004 found that women were twice as likely to have benzodiazepines prescribed to them for non-clinical symptoms such as stress, grief, acute or chronic illness, physical pain or an adjustment to a life change.  The NACD also found that the association between higher usage of tranquillisers and antidepressants to women in lower socio economic groups, those who have long-term dependence on state aid and those who have lower levels of educational attainment was a cause for further worry and need to be addressed by the authorities.  Mixed with other substances including alcohol they cause more deaths than any other drug.  Minor tranquillisers are involved in more than 40% of unintentional overdose according to the national Suicide Research Foundation. (2008).  Opiates  are the drug most likely responsible for death by poisoning.

The overuse of antibiotics is also a major problem in their effectiveness to combat disease. In Europe alone it costs €9 billion a year for prolonged stays in hospital and even death as a result. In 2008 the HSE ran a health promotion campaign in conjunction with the European Antibiotic Awareness Day to emphasize the importance of only taking antibiotics when really needed. A similar campaign should be run now to address the problem of tranquillisers and sedatives given the high rate of prescribed tranquilisers and sedatives that are given to women in Ireland. They should be informed about the potential negative effects of what they are being prescribed and other less harmful methods of dealing with their problems sought. People should fight against the constant prescribing of drugs and seek to be treated for core issues rather than being medicated for symptoms only.

The  overuse  of drugs has many documented problems and people can experience headaches, nausea, diarrhoea, sleeplessness, nervousness, etc. Sometimes, these side-effects can leave the person worse than they were from the condition they were being treated for.   Drug interactions can be caused by a seemingly innocuous combination of substances and result in heart attacks, strokes or even death.  A growing body of data from researchers suggests that antidepressants are not as effective as many people believe, with their prescribing being second only to cholesterol lowering medication in the USA.

Headaches may be triggered by a physical problem but they can also be triggered by different emotions (anger, guilt, grief, etc) or by relationship difficulties (including, bullying, mistreatment, loneliness, relationship breakdown etc). Yet some doctors adopt a one-size-fits-all approach for all these core problems  and simply prescribe a pill. These quick fixes only benefit Drug Companies and do not help to heal any underlying difficulties the person has.

Counselling and psychotherapy may be more beneficial to most patients,  but sadly prescribing is far more financially rewarding for the cosy cartel of the medical world and drug companies. The respect that doctors command and the obedience to the authority syndrome, where people obey because they bow to an authority figure, allows the medical profession to continue to prescribe medication that not alone may not heal, but may even kill you. When you examine how medical research is carried out with the use of placebo (where people are given medication that has no active drug ingredient), where people believe the drug cured them, highlights the importance of perception and the role the brain plays in physical health.  Doctors and the Drug companies are both well aware of the subconscious and natural abilities of a human being to heal themselves.  Yet they continue to follow the medical model to the detriment of so many.


Another disturbing fact is the purchase of drugs on the internet. In 2010 Pfizer conducted a survey and found that 20% of people buy from illegal sources, including online.  The Irish Pharmacy Union has stated that counterfeit medicine readily available may be mislabelled, contaminated and contain wrong ingredients.  Some blood pressure tablets sold on the internet were found to contain rat poison.  Paracetamol was found to have substances like chalk and talcum powder. The latest figures from the Irish Medical Board suggest large quantities of benzodiazepines are being brought into Ireland illegally with seizures of the drug reaching a quarter of a million.  The increase in internet and on line pharmacies and the relative ease in which people can purchase these and other drugs has also increased their use.    They may be cheaper but at what price?  Drug companies need to address their profit margins urgently and not continue to bleed consumers of their products dry. They need to charge an honest price, albeit one that includes a return for both their research and development of drugs that can improve conditions that are being suffered by so many.

Prescription drugs all have the potential for addiction and can alter a person’s judgement and decision making and lead to dangerous behaviours. Parents are the most effective force in preventing and reducing adolescent risky behaviour and help our young to lead health and drug free lives.  Research shows that young people who learn about drugs and their dangers at home are up to 50%  less likely to use drugs than their counterparts who don’t learn from their parents.  When you think of the cost of the misuse and abuse of illegal and prescribed drugs as well as over the counter medication which adds up to a staggering 154.4 billion dollars in the USA annually, is it not time to call halt  to the widespread manufacture of such lethal and acceptable  practices for the good of humankind?

It certainly is a bitter pill!

Peg Hanafin, MSc.     7/01/2014


The green shoots? For who?

Every day we hear the economists and the politicians telling us that we are seeing the “green shoots” of growth starting in our bare country. We associate green shoots with Spring and a new year when the buds come on the shrubs and trees. Green shoots mean that we have come alive and have left the long winter days behind.   So naturally when we hear these phrases used we hope we have left all the problems we have encountered since the Celtic Tiger absconded behind and that a new era has begun. Is this the truth or is it more of the same spin?. Are the green shoots for some and not for others?  Green shoots don’t select just some plants. In nature, all plants experience the green shoots as soon as the time arrives for rebirth.


A report published by the Central Statistics Office called Eu-silc (Survey on Income and Living Conditions) paints a different story especially for those who are poor, disabled or sick. In 2012, Eu-silc compared a broad range of issues in relation to income, living conditions and across a number of poverty indicators such as the “at risk of poverty rate, “consistent  poverty rate, and rates of enforced deprivation in Ireland.


It found that disposable income has decreased every year since 2004 when they started collecting that data. The findings also showed that the percentage of people who were at risk of poverty rate was also higher (16.5% compared to 16% in 2011).  In households where there was no one at work that increased to 36.6% and for single  unemployed  persons  that poverty rate stood at 34.7%.  That is, almost one in every three households in those circumstances  were at risk of poverty. These are not green shoots!.


Long-term unemployment is at a historic high and the proportion of our young people not at work is the 6th highest in the OECD with 16.7% out of work compared to the OECD average of 12.6% . These are not green shoots!


Our young people, especially those with third level education are emigrating in large numbers. They were educated by the Irish taxpayer and their loss to Ireland prevents strong growth and creates significant demographic problems for the future. According to the OECD  Ireland’s economic output, employment and average incomes all remain far below the 2008 meltdown, these are the facts.  There is a pretence that we are in recovery mode and that employment is growing but we still have 292,000 people  unemployed  and a growing number who are working fewer hours than they would like. These are not green shoots.


Society at a glance shows that incomes in  the average household in Ireland have fallen by 50% since 2008.  Almost one in ten people (9%) surveyed said they did not have enough of money to buy food, up from 4.2% in 2006. Lower income families are now more vulnerable to this food poverty and the gap between the rich  and  poor is set to continue.  Figures about unemployment, falling incomes and the increase in deaths by suicide all highlight the poverty being endured by families.



When you consider that 1 in 6 adults now live in homes where nobody is in employment,  compared  with the rate before the financial crash, which was 1 in 10 adults, the scale of poverty is unacceptable. The poor and those in low paid jobs have suffered the most as their income was not sufficient in the first instance to live meagre lives. When people become long-term unemployed  they  become permanently disconnected from the labour market and face poor earning or employment prospects throughout their careers. When employment does not give the financial rewards expected it becomes increasingly difficult for jobless people to work their way out of poverty. When a person gets employment in a low paid job, they often see only limited gains. That does not  motivate people.

The negative effects of poverty on people’s lives deprives them of opportunities in life and the  children of poor adults often go on to be poor themselves.  Debt and exclusion from the mainstream financial services also impact on those on low incomes and they are pushed into borrowing from high interest lenders like moneylenders.  Social exclusion or the feeling of not being equal within the community where they live and feeling unequal because of their financial circumstances all take their toll on the poor.

The high numbers of people who live in poverty is no asset to any country and should be tackled at every level and equality made a priority to improve the lives of all citizens before damage that is irreparable continues and destroys communities and puts lives at risk.  The green shoots need to filter down to those most in need if we can make statements that our economy is in recovery for everyone.

Peg Hanafin, MSc.  10/5/2014




Peg Hanafin MSc,  10/5/2014




Thoughts on Christmas

When we think of Christmas we hope that  everyone will experience happiness and inclusion and that the celebration of the birth of the Saviour will bring blessings to them.   In the lead up to Christmas, there is a scramble for presents, food,  beverages, millions of colourful lights, Christmas trees decorated in multi colours, homecomings, joys and happiness that Christmas brings. Christmas should be a time of rejoicing, celebrating,  being  generous, thoughtful and inclusive of family, neighbours and friends.  But, in the midst of all this excitement  we must not lose sight of those for whom Christmas is a huge challenge.

The reality for some people is that they simply have to survive. The lead up to Christmas can be surrounded by nightmares  of  “how  can  I get over this day without losing control or getting into debt”.  The  “highlights”  for this section of our community make for sad and upsetting thoughts.  We think about the people who are alone, those who may be housebound for diverse reasons, those who are lonely and those who are scared of  Christmas and its family orientation.   These include people who are financially poor, who have not the wherewithal to join in the festivities,  the poor in spirit who question the Christian values. It also includes people who are homeless searching for heat and food, those who crave for their homeland,  those who are  imprisoned who must surely reflect on their misdeeds and are trapped away from loved ones, the bereaved, the broken hearted who may be alone from family or  who are separated from children, the  sick in hospital or nursing homes  and feel isolated and for some,  forgotten, those who keep the wheels of the economy moving, those who  look after the sick, the emigrants who must spend Christmas away from home family and friends,  and for those who feel they have no one who really cares.  Christmas for all of these groups is a time for highlighting their plight which is painful and lonely.

Christmas should be about how we can make this time more meaningful for people whose paths we cross. Many today believe that life is meaningless, especially  those who lack faith, hope and charity.  We are simply cosmic dust, we live,  we die.  Believing in the real meaning of Christmas, or the birth of Christ,  gives us the criteria for discerning what makes human life precious and unique.  When we recognise and welcome God into our lives  we become stronger and will want to share and care with our fellow travellers.

There has been a drifting away from the values that were held dear throughout the ages, we have been consumed by commercialism, secularism,   and most of all, relativism which means there is no right or wrong.  In the recent past we see where these values have destroyed the integrity of so many organisations and leave many questions to be answered by those whose greed is flabbergasting.  We are bombarded every day with requests to give to  those who suffer inequality by the state,  a handout from charitable bodies,  only to discover that those in charge  fed their own wants first.  They should have been able to meet their needs from the large salaries paid in the first instance.  These were people plucked from privilege and society and it was hoped that integrity and conscience would form their basis to distribute the charity given by others for those in need. What a  let- down  for so many dependent on their honesty.  What a shameful way to conduct their responsibility.

This Christmas, after all the scandals of the past few years,  should encourage every individual, no matter what their circumstance to go back to basics and give and share their time,  their talents and their possessions with those who need them.  People who are in need and who have little of life’s comforts can always give a smile, a warm welcome, an offer of help, a kind word  while those with assets can share, even in a small way,  to people who are  finding life difficult.  These are ways in which we can all contribute to restoring faith in human nature at little cost and which bring back the true meaning of what we are celebrating to our friends, neighbours and our communities.

Just reach out today and bring the birthday gifts that the first Christmas espoused to every person and make it a meaningful and happy day for many, many people. Bring back the true meaning of Christmas this year.


The story of a journey to conversion

This is the story of a friendship that was celebrated this year in September in Lourdes, a friendship that has lasted sixty years, almost to the day.  It is about  a young priest newly ordained in 1950  by John Charles McQuaid for the diocese of Cashel and Emly,  but was bound for New Zealand  to help out at the request of Bishop McKeefry and sailed on the S.S Captain Cook, the emigrant ship that took six weeks to sail from Glasgow to its destination. He set sail in September 1953 and landed in his designated parish of St. Josephs, Wellington on October 20th 1953.  This priest was Fr. James Feehan, friend,  orator, author and exemplary priest.

On the long ocean voyage Fr Feehan said mass each morning for the very small group of Irish Catholics on board,  including Sheila Hope from Belfast and Jimmy Forkin from Roscommon.  On board also was Iris and Frank Carrie and their two small children, Francis and Angela  from  Jersey. Frank’s mother was Irish and he was one of fourteen children of Bridget Kelly  and  had been brought up as a Catholic but  strayed away from the church. He married Iris in a Catholic church in 1948, which he said was important to him,  but as Iris had no interest in the Catholic religion they both soon lapsed. Frank was the welter weight boxing champion of the Channel Isles in 1950 but decided to emigrate to start a new life in New Zealand. They had travelled through Southampton to get the train from London to Glasgow to board the ship for New Zealand.  The Carries made friends with Sheila and Jimmy and used to wonder about the ceremony every morning in the Writing Room which was shared with 3 other ministers of different faiths on board ship.  Iris used to peer in through the glass door, but gave Fr. James a wide berth, keeping her distance. But Sheila and Jimmy were an inspiration to her and even though she disappeared to the lower deck to avoid being part of the mass going group she was still drawn to the Irish contingency.

She had never seen Mass being said before and was fascinated by the ceremony.  Frank introduced Iris to Father Feehan but she was still sceptical and continued to give him a wide berth. Sometimes she would sit outside the door and listen.  Finally Iris decided to speak with  Fr. Feehan and she asked him about the story of St. Patrick and how the faith came to Ireland. In his own inimitable colourful way Fr. James told her the story and she thought it was a “nice story”  and said she would like to know more.

Iris was touched by the living faith of the Irish she had befriended and who took an interest in helping her with her children then only 2 and 4 years old. Their comraderie and their kindness and new found friendship touched her.  She asked for more instruction in the Catholic Faith and of course Fr. Feehan was the right priest in the right place.  For the duration of the journey, through the Pacific ocean, with flying fish and its magic power, Iris continued to become more and more interested in becoming part of the Catholic church.  She found that when they got to where they were going to live that Fr. Feehan would be her priest and he assisted herself and Frank in getting accommodation through friends of his,  Tommy and Mary McCabe from Cavan.

Iris started going to Mass on the 23rd December 1953 after she had received conditional Baptism and eighteen months later she received First Communion and Confirmation accompanied by her Irish friends.   Iris has said that Father Feehan had given her “a spiritual outlook on life that has sustained her to this day and has enriched her life”.   Iris and Frank called their next son Jimmy after the Padre.  Frank  was so taken by all that Iris knew about the  Catholic religion that he was born into that he  asked to join an instruction class for non-Catholics as Iris knew so much more than he did. They have remained devout Catholics throughout all these years and after Fr. Feehan left New Zealand to return to the Diocese of Cashel and Emly, when it took six weeks for a letter to arrive,  they kept in constant touch.  Iris and Frank and their five children returned to Jersey in 1966 where Fr. Feehan has spent many happy holidays with them and their children.

A celebratory Mass and a diamond anniversary cake presented by Angela Carrie to her parents and Fr. Feehan at the end of the O.M.I. Pilgrimage was a fitting tribute to the  conversion and a lifetime of friendship between Fr. Feehan and his loyal and true friends from Jersey.  Frank Carrie will be ninety years old next birthday as will Fr. Feehan on the 4th July 2014.  May they have many more enjoyable times in the knowledge that their friendship and their devotion to the Catholic Church has remained intact and loyal throughout sixty years and many changes in their lives.  It was indeed a great privilege to be part of that unique ceremony where the bishop congratulated and blessed great friends and wished them health and happiness in the future from the pulpit in St. Bernadette’s Church in Lourdes.

Peg Hanafin MSc.  7/10/2013





Thurles man steps into the shoes of blessed Ignatius Rice

Ignatius Rice died on the 29th of August 1884 and left behind him a legacy of service and the educational model known as the” Catholic School Model” which still exists to this day.  He was born in Callan, Co. Kilkenny and was one of a family of seven  brothers and two sisters. He was educated in hedge schools and at the age of seventeen joined his uncle’s very lucrative business, serving ships that came to Waterford.  The port in Waterford  was on a par with Rotterdam at that time.  From a very early age Ignatius Rice showed empathy and kindness to the poor and very quickly he became known throughout the city.  He was shocked at the high levels of poverty and the amount of young boys roaming  the  city, many homeless and in trouble with the law and no obvious carers.

At the age of twenty five he married Mary Elliot but the marriage was short-lived as Mary was thrown from her carriage and she died.  The baby girl she was expecting was born with a disability.  Ignatius was devastated and to the amazement of his family and friends sold the successful business that he had started, and was now one of the wealthiest people in Waterford. He opened a school in a converted shed in New Street for the boys who roamed the streets.   No teachers would remain with him because the  disruptive nature  of the boys and they were fearful of them.  These teachers he paid for out of his own pocket.  One night as he knelt to pray for help a knock came to the door and two men from Callan were standing there and offered their help.  They were Thomas Grosvenor and Patrick Finn.  In 1803 he opened Mount Sion and the rest lies in the annals of our history.  Seven of his staff took religious vows and took as their role model Nano Nagle of the Presentation Order.  (For the record Nano Nagle had a convent in Croke Street, Thurles).  The Christian Brothers and later the Presentation Brothers were formed and their ethos was the education and care of the poor.

In the recent past the Christian Brothers came in for much criticism over abuse while they took care of the children placed in their care by the State which abandoned them to a group of men not trained or equipped to deal with traumatised and disruptive young boys.  The Christian Brothers have a long  and  outstanding  commitment to education and care right across the world from India to Canada to Australia to Europe and it is sad that all the unique and exceptional work for the poor has been clouded and almost forgotten in this process.

But today in Mount Sion a renewed and wonderful facility is growing.  This renewal was started by my father’s nephew,  the late Brother Paul Power, but today we have one of our own, Brother Philip Ryan, son of the late Denis and Peggy Ryan,  Abbey Road, Thurles  at the helm.  This  enterprising,  hardworking and energetic  Brother, who is one of the Order’s youngest members is responsible for this mammoth venture that caters for over one hundred groups on a weekly basis.  It incorporates education of boys, immigrants and facilitates a myriad of courses attended by all classes of groupings.  The enormous building, maintained to the highest standard, immaculately kept,  has many meeting rooms and classrooms  and  a  museum  where  you can see the preserved bedroom belonging to Blessed Ignatius   along with his casket in which he lies in the  magnificent Church, which is also used as a meeting room when not in use. Every square inch of this enormous building is a hive of activity, and the management of such magnitude is a challenge for the man in charge.

Brother Philip  reminded me  that the first five years of his life he lived in Clonoulty and in spite of all his commitments,   he is returning there in the near future to train the hurling team in the hope of winning the County Final in 2013.   Following a motor bike accident in his youth he was left with his right arm incapacitated, but this drawback appears to spur him on and his tenacity, his courage, his spirituality and his energy and  zest for life is inspirational to say the least.  His late father was a very active member of the Thurles Conference of the St. Vincent de Paul for many years and Philip takes example from the way his dad worked for the needy and the disadvantaged and told me he was his role model.  The apple has not fallen far from the tree and if Denis was only here to see and enjoy the labours of his son, he would be so proud.  Brother Philip is humble, dismissive of his input into the renewed life that is visible everywhere you look, from the litter free environment inside and out, to the management of the centre which for one man,  is mammoth. The smile and warm welcome that greets you at the door is memorable.

Philip is quite capable of the enormous task that he has taken charge of and its success, and leaves one very proud of this Thurles native.  He is a natural  inspirational  leader, and is visionary and ready to put his shoulder to the wheel to continue the work of Blessed Ignatius and to achieve the dream that is the Mount Sion International Heritage Centre.  His spirituality and Christianity is palpable and serves him in good stead in this enormous project in the current climate of diminishing Brothers and an older community.  The burden of continuity falls on the shoulders of a young and  generous  Brother Philip.

The International Heritage Centre at Mount Sion is a legacy that the Christian Brothers can be proud of, and even though they get no State funding for this worthwhile and community based project, the  supporters of the Christian Brothers and their past students worldwide that got their education from their schools, continue to assist in the  financial affairs to allow this facility for the people of Waterford and surrounding area to continue.  This is a tribute to all Christian Brothers who worked  tirelessly  and humbly for all the hundreds of thousands worldwide that they educated, and continue to do so.  I would encourage any person who wishes to experience the sense of Christianity that permeates this centre,  to visit and see the legacy of the Christian Brother community to better the lives of all those who use this unique and wonderful centre, in spite of all adversity.    To the unique and courageous Philip we wish him the success that he so deserves and I have no doubt that his contribution will live on after him in the spirit of Blessed Ignatius Rice.

Peg Hanafin, MSc. 23/11/2012

Recognising the legacy of the Catholic church

Ingratitude,  is  an integral part of life.  Ingratitude is a “forgetfulness or poor return for favours received,  or  not valuing what you have, or have been given”.  Unexpressed gratitude is also ingratitude.  For example have you ever given a gift and received no thanks? Have you ever felt unappreciated by family, friends   or neighbours, when  always  there  when  needed?  Have you gone out of your  way  for  friends  and  neighbours  and  got  no  acknowledgement  for your efforts ?  How did that feel?  When as a society we put how we feel into action,  we  feel  indignant, resentful and find our spirit challenged.  An ungrateful spirit feeds unrealistic expectations from key people in our lives. We all, everyone of us,  experienced   the  above  feelings.  They   are  very  negative  feelings, and when one does not receive the recognition for good deeds, life can become very difficult and dispirited.

So how do we think our priests feel?   Am I my brother’s keeper?   Do all priests have to be painted with the same brush for the misdeeds of the few?  Have we, as a   professed   Catholic   nation , abandoned  logic?   In the 2011 census 84% of the population still call themselves “Catholic”.  Another interesting   statistic is that 68%   born into Catholic families remain in the church, maybe not with the same commitment,  dedication   and  enthusiasm  as before, but still remain.

Let  us   look at our abandonment of logic:  logic  is the science and art of being able to  cut through the chaff to attain the truth.   The Irish media is one of the most hostile in the developed world towards the Catholic  church  and on a daily  basis  promote  much negativity about our priests, nuns, and brothers.  I commend them on the exposures of the mindboggling abuse that our children endured until these scandals were exposed, but I do not see the same relentless haranguing of other  abusers ,  for example the swimming coaches, incest perpetrators,  (which are the most proliferate), rapists, convicted moneyed men etc.,  in the same way.  People like William Binchy and   Vincent Twomey  and  others in the church argue about the issues of ethics and morality and have also said that all the many thousands of good and faithful priests cannot be constantly  blamed for the sins of the minority.  The leaders in the church  itself  continuously fail to defend their stance, which is a pity.

It is not possible for a country so steeped in Catholicism to be cut free of our religious inheritance, so a mechanism for renewal will have to be found to restore our faith and give people hope in these times of crisis. We need strong and fair leadership, acceptance of a changing society,  and  also  a  compassionate  society  that   understands  the plight the church has found itself in.  All priests and religious  are  human, needing  our support in their daily survival for to remain faithful,   some   may not  have  the best qualities we all appear to demand, but they have made the ultimate sacrifice for their flock.


The Catholic church and the legacy it has left over generations in the fields of education, health  and providing for those abandoned by society, is a legacy that cannot and should not be forgotten by the citizens of this country.  The constant highlighting of sex scandals in a bid to taint all priests is failing  to take account of the intrinsic need  to be part of the Catholic Church embedded in the Irish psyche, is damaging and  undermining.  When “religious capital” declines   and the country  becomes  more secularized, our need  for spiritual nourishment is unmet.   This can be seen by the need of the thousands that attend Lough Derg, Knock, Croagh  Patrick, and indeed our own  Holycross  Novena  and Padre Pio day, highlighting the need for spiritual subsistence and renewal and a prayerful gathering of all the faithful, led  by the priest in charge.  I am sure they do not go to see the scenery, even though it may be an added bonus.  Many people may not agree with all the teachings of the Catholic church, and have different opinions on  many  aspects  of  its  teachings, like contraception, divorce, homosexuality and abortion, but still feel the need to be a part of the celebrations that constantly  require the services of our diligent clergy.

We may appear to have more material wealth, but when the reality of life hits with its challenges, we turn to our priests,  when  somebody close dies, has a terminal illness, a marriage breakdown, has  a loved one in the throes of addiction,  or a death by suicide or any one of the myriad of other daily problems  people  find  themselves in, in  the hustle and bustle of today’s world  their only place of refuge is often what is provided by  priests, nuns and other prayerful people.  When fortitude and courage are needed, we all want a place of refuge and we all want the attention of our priests and church services.

Since the 1960’s we have had rapid social change, and  authority was challenged at a frightening rate across all of society the Catholic church and it’s teachings came under fire.  The miss-handling of abuse scandals angered and pained the elderly, the younger generation felt  disgust ,  but even more so,  the innocent and good clergy who have borne the brunt in so many ways  for their erring peers, will have to be supported  in a meaningful, inclusive way.  The lack  of  moral  courage  and  silence, has been a very heavy price to pay for all members of our church.  Many of the allegations  made  were  very badly handled and were not faced up to by those in charge.  When report after report was published showing these cover ups, victims  were still not treated  with  respect,  dignity  and genuine concern ,  indeed the actions of those in charge left a lot to be desired,  adding  to further suffering of  victims and their families.  But   facing  the  public is a humiliating  exercise and done under duress and possibly anger and frustration,  when you have to admit you are wrong  and when it is outside of one’s control, is indeed a real challenge.

Let us  go  back in time to the Middle ages, when the Catholic church was recognised as the unifying force in Europe.  It was first recognised for its commitment to Literacy and Numeracy and for scientific development.  Monastic settlements were the only bastion of literacy, priests and  monks  became the founders of the first Universities  that  were  preceded  by the  schools   attached to monasteries and  cathedrals, and staffed by clergymen.  Convents also educated women.   The Catholic legacy can also be seen in the naming of plants and animals worldwide (in Latin).  Jesuit missionaries were at the coal face of scientific and cultural exchanges and their influence extended to America, Africa, Asia, and  China.  During the Dark Ages,  Church  Scholars and missionaries played a vital part in preserving  the knowledge  of classical learning,  in outposts  like our own Skellig  Michael,  where the Monks were the last  preservers of poetry  and scientific  works of Western Civilization.  After the fall of Rome, almost all men of intellect joined the Catholic Church and practically nobody in Western Europe outside of monastic settlements   was able to read or write.  Gregor Mendel, an Augustinian Friar,  developed  and studied theories  involving bees and their pollination of flowers and plants, which are now called “genetics”. He went unrecognised until around 1900, when various scientists rediscovered   his theories and worked on them.  The Jesuits contributed to  the  development  of  pendulum clocks, barometers, telescopes, microscopes, and electricity among others.  A  Jesuit priest called   Macelwaine   wrote the first text book on Seismology in 1936.  Irish missionaries were world renowned for their contributions to education and health  at  their delegated mission posts, and still are.

So pondering on just a few of  these  amazing  legacies  by the clergy of  the  Catholic Church, surely we as a society owe them  a debt of gratitude, loyalty and support to continue in their lonely and often demanding lives. The  Catholic  church  has   bequeathed  more than any other institution across the world, legacies that continue through the centuries for the betterment of all of humankind.  They may not have all been born to academia,  their oratory skills not up to scratch, but their contribution through the ages should mean that the present upheaval  is just a blip on the horizon of the future. What has befallen our church in the recent past will have to be taken in context of the unquantifiable legacy left by the Catholic Church down through the centuries. The church has man y faults and failings, seeing that it is managed by human beings and cannot be perfect, but it must be more accountable, honest and accept that things need to change, and fast.  Maybe the current crisis will make our church humbler, more understanding of people’s faults and failings, more compassionate for those who have different values,  more aware of peoples’ needs, and  becoming   part of every community,  where every priest, nun and brother continue to minister.  We owe our religious a huge debt of gratitude in trying to preserve the heritage we all need in our lives and give them unstinting support, care   and  concern  in  these difficult times when they are becoming older and  their numbers diminishing.

We,  the  beneficiaries of the ideals and values constantly promoted by the church, should now put our own shoulder to the wheel and ensure that the requirements for a happy and contented life continues for the next generation.   We should not throw away all that is good and pertinent to our lives because some priests, brothers and nuns were weak, violent and sadistic in their lives. They were after all a very, very small minority.  The  committed  religious,   should  hold their heads high and continue their ministry in the life that they have chosen, in the service of the Lord.   I take the liberty to say,  we do not give the recognition that is deserved by the clergy of our church, that are always there in our hour of need with their unconditional support to all of their flock.  They  need  our  sincere thanks, support and appreciation to renew their own spirits and lives,  to continue in these times of unfair trials and tribulations.

Peg Hanafin,  MSc.


26/10/2012 sent to Michael at the Irish Catholic, weekly paper.







The students of Colaiste Eile were my candle flame

“I like the dreams of the future, better than the history of the past”  (Thomas Jefferson)


For the students who returned to second chance education at Coláiste Éile, the above quotation is extremely relevant.  I am going to speak about the years that I had the honour of being Co-ordinator of Coláiste Éile. When I was appointed on 1 January 1995, I named the Vocational Training Opportunity Scheme (VTOS) facility Coláiste Éile, believing then and now that naming the centre would be a way of bringing dignity and pride to all there. Coláiste Éile facilitated a Vocational Training Opportunity Scheme (VTOS), a scheme which provides another chance for education to eligible persons over 21 years old, who are long-term unemployed, on one-parent family allowance, on disability allowance or on an invalidity allowance. Most students were early school leavers, and had faced numerous and soul-destroying disadvantages in their lives.


An assumption is very often made that because you are an early school leaver, that you have no brains or unable to learn for some reason. The students of Coláiste Éile rubbished that belief and in fact many are multi-talented and have multiple intelligences.

The power of education to liberate and transform peoples lives is quantifiable and visible.

Many students come from difficult and challenging lives, yet they return to education with an exuberance and a willingness to learn that always astonished me no matter how often I witnessed it. In the years between 1995 and 2001, I saw many hard examples of this. The students have just two years to attain the Leaving Certificate standard on a VTOS programme. The students themselves opted for classes to start at 8.00am, such was their enthusiasm and it was to their credit that in the dark winter mornings they would be the only people on Liberty Square rushing to have a cuppa and get ready for class.


The number of students who went on to third-level institutions every year was both encouraging and exciting, gaining certificate, diplomas and degrees. Many achieved accolades such as “student of the year”, attained honours degrees, and several continued to Master Degree programmes and higher in various universities, institutes of technology and other third-level institutions. Several are now fully qualified teachers, some have managerial positions and others are employed in diverse fields of employment. Their return to education has benefited each and every one and has had a positive impact on their lives.



Coláiste Éile also opened its doors to Leaving Certificate students who were excluded from their own schools and who finished their Leaving Certificate very successfully. Young teenagers who finished their education at the early age of fourteen or younger also benefited from Coláiste Éile. These very young people were also taught every day by both the staff and the voluntary teachers and by students of the centre. I know that we did make a difference from their letters and from their phone calls. Students often told me then and since, that the motivation and nurturing that prevailed in all aspects of life in Coláiste Éile, worked very successfully and gave every student self-esteem, dignity and a realisation of their valuable contribution to society.


Setting up and managing the “Women’s Groups” that operated in the country parishes also provided a very exciting project for me which made education available in rural areas around Thurles. The innovative idea of bringing education to women in their local area was instigated by Luke Murtagh. I was delighted to be able to rise to the challenge of making these groups a reality. In 1995 we started with three groups and this rose to fifteen groups over the following years. These were later overseen with dedication by Sheila Gleeson. David Leahy (CEO) and Jim Casey (Chairman) are carrying on a fine tradition of encouraging access to education and are to be complimented on their commitment to adult education throughout North Tipperary.


To ensure a successful outcome skilled and motivated teachers in Coláiste Éile who were generally part-time, and the consistent results, year in year, year out is a tribute to their expertise, their commitment to their profession and the energy, time, care and patience they were prepared to give to those returning to education.


Coláiste Éile was a special centre where an ethos of caring and sharing prevailed. The community spirit that existed between staff, students, and volunteers, all of whom were totally committed to the betterment of all students made this a unique centre. In addition to the great academic achievements and progress, there was always laughter and camaraderie, support and concern. Literacy and literature classes were provided by volunteers like Jerry Walshe, Bridie Corbett, Mary Corcoran, Mary Coughlan, Nuala Stakelum, Chris McDonnell, Sr. Angela Kinane and Liam Foley (Fr). Numeracy classes were provided by the indomitable and talented Martin Ryan. Literacy and numeracy problems make the world a daunting place for anyone and without the aid of the volunteer tutors in these subjects we could not have addressed these issues. Professor Micheál Ó hÉigeartaigh and Dr. Jim O’ Shea also joined the volunteer tutors, both giving the students and myself immeasurable assistance in their areas of expertise. We were fortunate in having Fr. Jim Purcell who cared for the essential spiritual aspects of our small community and involved them in the liturgy. Each of these volunteers spent many hours weekly in Coláiste Éile, their successes visible and measurable. No work of education was foreign to the centre, and the challenges were always met with an understanding and a kindness that allowed people to continue to receive the education that they had missed out on. In doing so, teachers, voluntary staff, and others gave the best that it is possible for human beings to give to the education process.




Coláiste Éile was also supported by many statutory bodies, including the Community Welfare Officers,  the Gardai, Social Welfare, Mental Health Services, MABS, the Public Health Nurses, Thurles UDC, Fás, and by  voluntary organisations such as the Thurles St. Vincent de Paul Society, and the Central Council of the St. Vincent de Paul Society and by members of the local clergy, particularly Fr. Eugene Everard. Their ready support and care enhanced the work of Colaiste Eile and the lives of the students.


We also got invaluable assistance from Gairm Scoil Mhuire, the sisters of the Presentation Convent, the Christian Brothers both in Thurles and Cashel and from the early beginnings, from the Tipperary Institute with whom we shared the same building. Without all of this ongoing, unstinting and generous support from all of these organisations the successes we enjoyed could not have been achieved.


The Computer training that was set up in 1999 and was the pride and joy of all who used it under the guidance of the uniquely talented and singularly reliable Pat Gormley, and his ace team of Jim Quin, Pat Troy, Adrian Cullagh, Ronnie Jackson, Kevin Carey, Sean Ryan and the Queen herself, Josephine Delaney. The thousands of unpaid hours given by these individuals to the setting up, maintenance and provision of the Computer facility and training programmes, were graciously given and expertly delivered. Thanks to them and to start-up funding received from the Society of the St Vincent de Paul Central Council, we were able to offer a first-class training not only to our own students but to others outside of the VTOS programme.


I would like to thank all of the night-class students who supported the College as well as the business people and the professionals in the town and the factories who sent their personnel to be trained in ECDL etc, thereby supporting the day-time students by enabling the modernisation of facilities and IT training equipment that was acquired by the funds generated.


The Tipperary Star supported us in a very public way and always added great recognition, dignity and celebration to the lives and successes of our students. This was very important in many ways to the students, not least, that they were being recognised for the challenges that they met and surmounted with great tenacity.


Coláiste Éile was a unique and special TRAINING centre, with goodwill and support always available to support the students in their onward journey to success. Over the years I saw over and over again how significant personal life events are, and how inseparable they are from people’s academic and working lives. We celebrated many joyous events, births, marriages and one marriage that was celebrated in the centre itself, without alcohol – a unique – but inspiring occasion for the very happy couple involved and an example for all of us. We shared great sadness together too, when we mourned the loss of Michael Ryan, James Ryan, Andre Gedigh. Billy Phillips, Patrick Doherty and Thomas Brolan. Go dtuga Dia suaimhneas síoraí dá n-anamacha uaisle.


My sincere thanks to the Chairman Jim Casey, and the C.E.O. David Leahy, for their generosity and commitment to funding this Bursary in my name. The financial help will benefit a student from Colaiste Eile each year. I would also like to thank North Tipperary VEC for allowing and encouraging me over the years to develop Coláiste Éile as an inclusive, accommodating and nurturing educational centre for the people of Thurles. I would like to thank the staff in the VEC offices for always being aware of the students needs and always answering the call of duty.


I am accepting The “Peg Hanafin Bursary” being funded and launched today by North Tipperary VEC on behalf of all the people who gave diverse support, and in recognition of the efforts of all staff members, the volunteers and the students. As you can see no one person could achieve the profound life changes that occurred on a daily basis in Colaiste Eile.





Finally my heartfelt gratitude to all the students of Coláiste Éile, who continue diligently to write letters, send cards, and mass bouquets, who telephone and visit me. You have been the candle flame in my life during the long illness with which I was burdened. I was glad I didn’t know in the beginning that the life I shared with you all in such a loving and happy environment was over. But you have kept it all alive and I love and care and wish each of you, all the success you so deserve in the future.

I would like to say a final thank you to both the chairman, Jim Casey and the CEO of NTVEC for bringing my time in Colaiste Eile to a happy conclusion and for making this day possible.




The five giants that helped to build a nation

In 1941 the British Government commissioned a report into ways in which  Britain could be rebuilt  after the Second World War. In 1942 the Government unveil a plan offering care from “the cradle to the grave”. The new Prime Minister would implement the report chaired by William Beverage, an economist and social reformer who had been chosen as the obvious choice, because of his background.  He published his report in 1942 and recommended that the government should find ways of fighting the five giant evils which was besetting the citizens of England as to what could be done for people on low incomes. This White paper was the basis for much social legislation which would be implemented both in Britain and Ireland over the years.

These he recognised to be; Want,  Disease, Ignorance, Squalor and Idleness.

 Are these still prevalent in today’s world and how do they relate to our present economic circumstances?   Maybe we have not moved  that far away from what were the causes of so much human miseries inflicted on so many, after yet another war between nations.  On hindsight was it all worth it, or was there a better way to settle differences?

Let’s examine what Beverage saw as in need of addressing and see can they be related to what has happened in our own country.

Want.  Throughout our independence we were never more in want of so many different aspects of living in today’s Ireland. We want our security back, we want our peace of mind back, we want our jobs back, we want to be able to live in decent conditions, we want to be able to buy necessities for our children, we want a good education system, we want a health service that meet our needs, we want a government that do the job they are paid to do and we want a Church that we can put our faith in—I could go on and on.

So I think Want is in need of being addressed to conquer our present difficulties and give some hope to our people.

Disease.  Even though mammoth advances have been made, a myriad of diseases are still a very big problem for our citizens.  Disease  have moved on since the like of tuberculosis.       But Heart disease, strokes, cancer, depression, alcoholism and  the  many different diseases that comes with the on-set of older people,  mean that we still have not conquered disease . Hospitals are creaking at the seams, with waiting lists getting longer, community services being slashed, and our mental health services in a shambles.  When we look at the number of very ill people who wait on trollies  for days,  suffering the further indignity of being on public view, we have to wonder how far we really have come. Have we moved on? I do not think so.  Are these facilities,  the ones we thought we were going to get when a structure was put in place by the so-called experts?  How are these results reconciled with the huge work force and the management in our health service.

Idleness.  We are riddled with idleness from the highest paid in our country to the people at the bottom of the ladder. It was surely Idleness that has caused the total collapse of our economy. People were richly remunerated for doing jobs that they did not do. Perhaps some were incapable of the positions they held, but if so, what mechanism was in place to remove or replace them with someone efficient. Or who in the first instance thought they were capable of doing that job?  They were employed to do  important work to oversee and ensure the livelihoods of our people, which have now been shattered. Huge and impacting mistakes were made because not enough of time and expertise was   given to the task at hand.  We still see many of these perpetrators of Idleness playing in the golf links, sunning themselves in luxury on the Costa del Sol, or other such places, without a thought or acknowledgement for the destruction that their idleness inflicted on so many. We have many able bodied people who have got state assistance for all of their lives and cascade that ethos to their children, at the expense of those who do work. We have people heading up large State  bodies, and who were not at their desks, to ensure that the job was  done properly, all at the eventual expense of the public purse and the untold misery that they caused.  Idleness crosses all divides and will have to be addressed more aggressively to make a “day’s work for a day’s pay” the requirement for their salaries. “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop” as the old saying goes.  Accountability must be rigorously implemented with urgency.

Squalor.  When you look at programmes made and see people who live in poor and inadequate accommodation, those who live on the streets, with no hygiene facilities, those whose homes are now falling in to disrepair due to lack of finances and those who live in poor  and  inadequate housing, people unable to care for themselves and need assistance, squalor  is relevant to all  those, who are the weakest in our communities.  In spite of the Celtic tiger, the many people who were left behind with addictions and lack of employment skills and those who live on the margins all endure squalor to a more or lesser degree. Squalor has not disappeared and for those who have to endure living in conditions that are akin to the third world.  In the Ireland of today, we must surely start to question the pain inflicted on so many, now that all these boom-time houses lie idle surely an innovative plan could be put in place to help those in need of a change in life-style.

Ignorance.  The lack of knowledge, education, awareness, or the empathy with peoples’ problems is causing untold pain in lives today. The “I’m alright Jack” attitude which has infiltrated our society shows a disrespect for the plight of others who are struggling for survival, worried and anxious about how they will make ends meet, are all to be seen on a daily basis. Decisions are  being made by those who have power, but are ignorant of the facts of how other people live and how they have to survive. Is it proper to have people in authority infringing in a damaging way on the finances or daily living of others that they themselves do not understand, or educate themselves as to the circumstance presenting? To make an informed decision, you must be able to understand the facts, so how can someone who live on a large salary  decide what is best and what is the minimum to meet someone else’s needs. Guess work is not the answer.  Informed and diligent personnel, of whom we have many in this country, and who have chartered  productive ideas should be encouraged to blow the whistle on those who made bad and damaging decisions for our country.

William Beverage, if he returned today, would be disappointed in how far we have  progressed  his recommendations and his vision,  which laid the foundation for the marginalised in Britain over seventy years ago, for the betterment of life for those in need of social care and who are the weakest link in our society. In what is supposed to be a Christian country we most certainly should be in a better place than we are today. What a pity for so many, what a lesson to ponder for those in power, who have brought us to this predicament.


Peg Hanafin, MSc. Rehab. Couns/psych.


053-9127281 0r 0876484518  Printed in Tipperary Star of 07/06/2012

Reflection on Lourdes, 2015

How could you put on one page the diversity of the spiritual journey that is the Oblate Lourdes Pilgrimage. For me, this was probably the best so far because of the many friends that I have made and that I keep in contact with over the rest of the year. Friends, who have come to mean so much in my life and that have given me the courage to join them on the pilgrimage, no matter what the barriers. From the moment I got off the bus in the hospital until the last day, life was filled with fun, laughter, chat, sharing, praying and soul searching. Added to that is the spiritual renewal that uplifts my soul and highlights the need to give thanks for all the privileges I enjoy and that sometimes I take for granted.

The theme this year was the call of Pope Francis to have unity and love of our fellow man, and was to the fore in the ceremonies and homilies. He asked that we not spend time like mourners, but by being joyful and aware of those sick, rejected, or misunderstood and uniting in prayer with those present and for those who asked for our prayers.  These aspirations were encouraged by the many inspiring homilies that touched deep within.

The awesome numbers of pilgrims that continually file past the Grotto until late into the night, the torchlight procession with the praying of the rosary, the uplifting hymns, and the raised candles, is akin to what we expect to hear when life is over. Heavenly, sacred and the unifying of people of all ages and backgrounds in prayerful concert. For anyone poor in spirit and searching, this is an awakening of an encounter with the Mother of God.

No amount of gratitude would repay the work done by the Oblate priests, leaders, helpers and young helpers in enabling people who are sick, disabled in body and spirit and in need of consolation and compassion that is given so freely and lovingly on this unique and wonderful pilgrimage every year. Sincere thanks to all who make it possible.

Peg Hanafin, 24/9/2015



Intergenerational Poverty

All research and data provided by many different organisations dealing with the causes of intergenerational poverty  say that its elimination can be achieved by education and productive employment. At this moment in time, in Ireland,  we have 137,000 children who live in consistent poverty, an indictment on the way our Governments have chosen to abandon a whole section of society with the policies they continue to pursue. We all know families who are consistently poor from generation to generation and life appears to have dealt them a raw deal.  They are excluded from society, are in constant difficulties, many have criminal inclinations, drug  and alcohol addictions, gambling addictions, poor health and are lacking in literacy and numeracy skills.  They pass on all of these disadvantages to their children and another generation remains poor.

A wide range of issues are associated with the intergenerational transmission of poverty from parents to children. A complex set of negative factors make up the package that is transferred from generation to generation. A poor child becomes a poor adult because of the way in which they were reared and the values given to them. If you come from a family where nobody  works, have constant financial troubles  and little motivation, the example shown by parents is how that child will live.  Just like a household where there is a work ethos and education is of paramount importance, these skills will be passed to their children who will then have all the advantages and choices of having a successful way of living.

Discrimination and intolerance by society surrounding those who spend their lives “living off the state” adds to the problems of children from poor families. If you live in a home where early childhood education is taboo and going to school every day is not important,  then from the start a child is disadvantaged through no fault of their own.   Addictions, domestic violence, poor nutrition and healthcare, exclusion associated with class, ethniticy,  gender or religion  are all signs known to be the pathway to poverty. A poor child who is disadvantaged from  birth will be more  likely to eventually become a poor adult. This is what the statistics tell us.

Other factors that keep people poor are sickness, adolescent pregnancies, early school leaving, coping with family conflicts, household degeneration and mental distress. Those with little coping skills and low educational levels will find themselves poor and isolated and excluded from society at large when trying to deal with all these negative issues.

Household income and individual assets are another facet of intergenerational poverty. Where parents have no disposable income,  have no assets and who continually struggle to pay the day to day costs of running a home, have no way of giving their children a helping hand when they need assistance.  The breakdown in relationships with the resultant fall in income for the family all add to rates of poverty that is unacceptable for the children who suffer.

According to EU SILC 2013, we have 12% of children between the ages of 0-17 living in consistent poverty.  How do those in authority condone such disadvantage  that will have long-term negative consequences for other citizens in this country into the future?  How can leaders and policy makers who know what the statistics say,  as well as the numerous reports that Government agencies pay large sums to produce,  choose to do nothing about the results?

The poverty figures surrounding children have doubled from 6% in 2008 to 12% in 2013 in spite of the fact that our minister for Social and Family affairs tell us differently. In  July of this year all lone parents with children over seven will lose their lone parents allowance and the additional supplementary payments that they receive. Seeing that the figures produced show that 63% of lone parent households experience deprivation, it is inconceivable that further poverty will be inflicted on these children. These are the children of the future and to escalate their lives into a poverty trap belies the equality that we should be promoting. Down the road poverty will have to be addressed  and the further escalation of children into a lifetime of being poor is a question that we should all ask ourselves. Is this how we want our country to progress? Education and gainful employment supporting a living wage is not too much to give the children of the nation, and bring a secure future which will benefit every citizen and allow a better standard of living to all, could be addressed if the will  and  the  policies were implemented by government.  Intergenerational   transmission  of  poverty from parents to children, especially families where criminality is resorted to, interferes with the rights of every citizen. So why then do we condone the infliction of poverty on our most vulnerable  citizens  when  education  is a basic right and equality is part of our constitution which we are supposed to uphold.

Until such time as government policy change in favour of a just income for parents with children and the educational system erases literacy and numeracy problems,  we will continue to have intergenerational poverty.  Intergenerational poverty affects us all either directly or indirectly and its consequences have far reaching circumstances for all of society.  We need to address poverty in all its forms to make our society just and equitable and each one of us are duty bound to achieve this goal.


Peg Hanafin, MSc