People who previously donated to St Vincent de Paul in Mullingar are now turning to them for help, according to Cathaoirleach of Mullingar Town Council, Ruth Illingworth.
She made the comment following figures published by her Fine Gael party colleague, Senator Nicky Mc Fadden, showing that Mullingar is one of a number of towns across the country with newly unemployed people waiting more than ten weeks for social welfare benefits to come through.
Cllr Illingworth says it’s time for the Government to “get to grips” with the situation which she says is proving very difficult for both the unemployed and the working poor in Mullingar.
“It’s very disturbing that people are having to wait so long,” she says, pointing out that they are “in difficult straits and need help now, not in a couple of weeks”.
She recently sent one person to St Vincent de Paul who was in trouble waiting to get benefits “because they would be able to help straight off”.
According to the councillor, St Vincent de Paul are reporting that “a lot of people are in serious trouble. The numbers they are dealing with are increasing and they are dealing with people who have “never, ever been in that situation before and are desperate to get help”.
They say more and more people are coming to them and that they themselves are “just able to cope. They have their concerns too”. “They were reliant on church gate collections but fewer going to mass and those who are, have less to give.”
“People who a couple of years ago were giving to Simon and SVP are now looking for help.”
“It really isn’t good, particularly coming up to Christmas when people are working out how to pay for presents and fuel bills,” she says.
There has been a problem in Mullingar and other towns in the past of people getting into debt with moneylenders and Cllr illingworth would “urge people not to go down that route”.