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The Society of St.Vincent de Paul has said that neither the Troika nor the Government is listening to the message that many people are in serious family, financial and personal difficulties because of the austerity which is being forced upon them.

The Society’s National President, Geoff Meagher, wrote to Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank, expressing concern about the situation of vulnerable groups due to the effects of the economic crisis on struggling households. A reply has been received, not from the Bank President, but from its Head of Press Information, saying: “Unfortunately, given the very large size of the adjustment that needs to take place, it is not possible to completely exclude the most vulnerable groups that also have to share in the burden.”

SVP National Vice-President for Social Justice, Tom MacSweeney, said this reply indicated a lack of understanding about the Society’s message – that there are many families, many people, who do not have enough money to live on and that while the Troika and the Government were saying they had to get money to deal with the economic debt, where did they think people who already do not have enough money are going to get money to meet increased taxes and other demands on them. The Minister for Social Protection had also declined to meet the Society to discuss its pre-Budget submission calling for those who have already borne the brunt of cutbacks and who are unable to take any more, to be protected.

“The impact of cuts to incomes and services has been most keenly felt by those least able to afford it. The SVP is experiencing an increase of over 80 per cent in demand for our services since 2009 and are spending €70m. a year to help families and individuals in need. We appreciate the Minister has a lot of demands from organisations but we are the biggest charitable organisation in the country and the unique access which families give us to their homes to meet and help them gives us the strongest insight into the problems people are experiencing. More people who never before had to seek help from the Society are now approaching us. We are saying to the Government and the Troika, listen to us, we are telling you that people are suffering badly.

“In the words of our Founder, Frederic Ozanam, there has been enough discussion of political issues, it is now time to discuss the social issues, these should be of the greatest concern. A nation is not just an economy, it is made up of people and the Government has an obligation to look after them.”