I love Ireland. It’s a part of my heritage (my mother is Irish) and I spent much of my childhood in Dublin going to school in Walkinstown for a year and spending my summers with my grandparents.
Since my first journey on the ferry from Holyhead I took as a baby I have seen Ireland change: the years when women sold lighters on Henry Street “four for a pound”, the opening of the new shopping centre in Tallaght, the switch to the Euro and later the boom years.
I moved to Dublin in 2007 to further my education. The city was doing well, but had lost much of the identity I remembered from my childhood. The women selling items from prams were gone, some of the Irish shops we used to frequent were replaced by big name retailers selling clothes at higher prices than the UK and the small corner shop with the family name was boarded up.
But in the years since I arrived things have turned again and you can see the changes all around you, from the closed shops to the increase in homeless people on the streets.
When I finished my course in 2008 I got a minimum wage job and tried to make ends meet. I could just pay my rent, but had little money for nights out or for trips back to Wales. I got another job so I could have extra cash and ended up working from 9am to 11pm and arriving home at midnight. I have never been so tired in my whole life.
So when I heard the government plans to cut the minimum wage I was disappointed. I can understand that there are people who are already struggling to make ends meet and now they’ll have to cut back even further. I am angry that the Irish government’s methods of saving money attacks the people who can least afford it and doesn’t take enough from the overpaid fat cats who partied during the good times and don’t want to pick up the bar tab.
That is one of the reasons why I was one of those who took to the streets on Saturday to make sure the government know and the rest of the world can see that the people think that this is not acceptable.