#Budget18 Case Study: 80-year-old widow facing a 'long winter' for an extra €5

An 80-year-old widow who takes in a student lodger to help her feel more secure at home has accused the Government of putting pensioners on a waiting list.

Grainne Clune watched Paschal Donohoe's speech from her living room in Renmore, Galway in anticipation of a modest boost to her state pension.

But having to wait until the end of next March for an extra five euro left her wondering about meeting the rising cost of heating her bungalow.

Grainne Clune (80) at her home in Renmore, Galway. Photo: Press Association

"I find we have been put on the waiting list for everything if you like," she said.

"When they are not going to give that allowance until next March, it's a long winter.

"It's in the winter when you want things, more than in the summer."

Mrs Clune has monthly bills for medication.

"I do find it is coming down a bit and it means a difference. It has come down since already, now it's on the way down - it's better than it going up, isn't it," she said.

Twice widowed, Mrs Clune worked in hotel management before getting married to her first husband in 1960 before marrying again in 1997 at the age of 60.

She lights a little wood burning stove in her front room most days and some of her eight adult children help her to cover the cost of some home heating.

"It's a long way until March. But the increases are coming in earlier than that on the price of fuel," she said.

"It's a long winter. And it affects older people."

Justin Moran of Age Action said: "It is disappointing the pension increase is again delayed, especially when it is needed in January and February to help pay heating bills."

Mrs Clune, who turned 80 in July and takes part in an active retirement club and Sunday afternoon ballroom dancing and scrabble evenings, raised concerns about people less able to keep an active social life.

The boost to the telephone allowance is of little assistance as she refuses to live alone.

"I'm not living alone. I don't feel safe living alone," she said.

"I keep a student or a worker in the house so there is always sign of someone coming or going - well able people moving in and out of my house at all hours.

"You have to keep yourself safe.

"I think it's my own duty to look after my own safety. I'm around a long time and I know life has a lot to throw at anyone, no matter what age you are.

"But if I was living out in the country I could not. At least I'm living in the city suburbs. I can get students in because GMIT is only up the road.

"If I was out in the heart of Co Galway on a by-road or something there's not much to help protect you there."

Mrs Clune welcomed the Government's initiative to tax those earning big paydays from commercial property deals.

"They can afford to pay higher tax," she said.


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