In August 2011, The Geary Institute at University College Dublin published a discussion paper entitled The Experience of Unemployment in Ireland: A Thematic Analysis.
With unemployment standing at 14.4% in the Twenty Six Counties and continuing to rise, this paper could not be more relevant. The Authors explain their aim in writing the study is to examine “how material, emotional, psychological, social and physical well-being is being affected by unemployment”.
As the Fine Gael/ Labour Coalition prepare to cut an estimated €700 million [£600 million] from the social welfare budget for the coming year, this well researched and hard hitting paper takes an axe to the root of an idea, popular amongst the government and its cronies, that living on social welfare benefits is a lifestyle choice.
Parts of the paper make for harrowing reading as the authors document the sense of social isolation, political powerlessness and depression experienced by many unemployed people. The paper highlights how demoralising struggles to pay rent or mortgages, battles to find money for food or to pay household bills, combined with a guilt associated with spending money, all to often lead to a range of physical and mental health difficulties for the unemployed. This is the daily reality of life for the almost 510,000 Irish people on the dole, North and South.
Despite the Dublin Government constantly raising the idea that those on the dole are out to cheat the tax payer through rampant welfare fraud, participants in the study reveal how they are regularly faced with the choice of whether to eat or pay bills, whether to attend the doctor or to suffer in pain as they cannot afford the medical fees.
The experiences of life on the dole documented by the paper exposes the sick nature of the ruling class in Ireland that would attack the most vulnerable sections of our society to maintain their own comfortable position.
The testimonies of participants in the study serve as a stark warning to the Dublin government that cutting the social welfare budget will only result in the further impoverishment of hundreds of thousands of Irish Citizens and their families who are already struggling to survive. The type of cuts widely expected under this year’s budget are highly likely to have an all to real human cost.
The Experience of Unemployment in Ireland: A Thematic Analysis is a must read for all concerned about the issue of unemployment in Ireland and the impact it is having on wider Irish society and can be read in full at: