If French think life is hard, let them try living here!
Leo’s lot should learn from Yellow Jacket riots
WHILE we were all mesmerised by the televising of the revolution in France – with its vivid images of yellow-jacketed protesters, orange flames and blue-clad, body-armoured gendarmes – prices were rocketing, again, in Ireland.
The only people who seemed to notice – and care – about the fact that gas and electricity prices have risen twice in the last 12 months, up in total by 20%, were the Society of St. Vincent de Paul who work at the coalface.
Did anyone notice that most bus, rail and Luas fares jumped last week, hidden by the ‘three card trick’ that some fares had gone down?
French movies may be slow, languid, elegant and boring, but their protests are like Hollywood blockbusters. They even dig deep in naming their protest movements – ‘Gilets Jaunes’ (Yellow Jackets), another daring move!
Imagine protesters, who normally want to remain anonymous, donning high-viz jackets so the police can easily identify them?
BUT then again France is a bizarre country. Until recently, cigarettes were manufactured by the state – and the increasing price of cigs was one of the many complaints raised by the ‘Gilets Jaunes’. But, ostensibly, the main grievance of the French protesters was the proposed fuel increases – but they have been promptly abandoned by a scared government.
French petrol and diesel prices are lower than in Ireland: the French don’t pay car tax, it’s incorporated into their fuel prices.
But, then, most things are more expensive in Ireland. We pay the second highest price in the EU for our gas, while our electricity bills are the fourth highest out of 27 countries.
If you are struggling with gas and electricity bills – according to the St Vincent de Paul 28% of Irish families are in that category – you can opt for a ‘pay as you go’ meter.
But this will add up to €274 to your annual bill. The SVP spends €4million every year helping needy families with these bills.
And the electricity suppliers don’t make it easy for pay-asyou-go households. When you top up you need to key a 20-digit code into the meter. And every time the prices go up, twice this year, you have to key in a 60 digit code!
On the same day that France erupted last weekend, a massive, good-natured peaceful protest weaved its way through Dublin city centre, as a coalition of over 50 groups highlighted the housing and homeless crisis.
The French protests turned savagely violent. Four people are dead, hundreds injured and the taxpayer will have to pay out countless millions in compensation to property owners.
One description of the French uprising that did hit home is that the protesters, in objecting to increased carbon taxes to beat climate change, were choosing between the end of the world and the end of the month – and they went for the latter.
This month sees the miserly income tax changes announced in the October Budget appear in pay packets – but they are so small that few will notice.
Can we blame hard-pressed workers for being more interested in their pay at the end of the month?
I don’t think so, but it is a lesson our Government should heed more.