Tuesday, 25 October 2016

An open letter to the Irish Government

***Correction: On October 23rd 2016, TheJournal.ie published a FactCheck article, amending rumours that the government were cutting the mental health budget. You can read that article here. I've decided to leave this post be, as I feel it can still apply to many issues within Irish society (water charges, the 8th amendment, student loans, et al.)***

In April 2016, you suggested cutting the funding to Irish mental health services by eighteen million euro.

And we stood up. We protested. We campaigned. We shouted. We told you we are a reason to keep funding mental health services, every single one of us.

And you heard. You definitely heard.

But you didn’t truly listen.

Because although you promised – you promised – hundreds of thousands of struggling people – YOUR people – that you wouldn’t cut funding to already unfunded, yet imperative, services in their lives.

You promised. You made that vow.

And yet here we are. Months later.

And you’re cutting those services – that incredibly important lifeline – by twenty million euro.

You heard. But you didn’t truly listen.

How many more people are going to die at their own hands before you start listening?

You can hear us. We know you can.

You can sit behind the high, polished gates of Leinster House and pretend you don’t, but outside you know your electorate waits. And you know they’re angry.

We know you can hear us.

When we said we didn’t want to pay more for water services. When we came out in hundreds of thousands and demanded this basic human right.

When we demanded abortion rights, and the right to control our own bodies, we came out in thousands. We were loud. You couldn’t miss us.

And when last week, we came out again, and told you we can’t afford €20,000 student loans. Again, we were loud.

We know you can hear us.

What’s worse is, you acknowledged your ability to hear us when you promised – promised – to leave mental health funding alone.

Instead, you proposed taking a €5,000 raise each.

A little self-pat on the back for all your hard work this year.

For all the services you failed to adequately provide, to fund.

For all the already struggling students you don’t like to acknowledge.

For all the women you send to another country every day for the medical services you won’t provide for them.

For the thousands of Irish people who take their own lives every year, who you refuse to help.

We know you can hear us, sitting high in Leinster House.

But will you ever truly listen?

Ciara Pollock © . Design by FCD.