Joan Burton was heckled by protesters last week as she opened a new food bank in Glasnevin.
“We were there to remind her that we’re supposed to be in a recovery”, said Bernie Hughes, a prominent anti-water charges protester.
Approximately 25 protesters were met by two riot vans of Gardai. Protesters were incensed when Burton did not address them. Hughes said: “I negotiated with the superintendent to be able to ask her some questions. He reneged on this, he never came back. So we pulled the barrier.”
There were no arrests or recorded injuries.
The Dublin Food Bank is owned by Crosscare, an organisation managed by the Archdiocese of Dublin to provide food parcels to communities. It is supported by farmers who donate fresh produce for hot meals. It has a strong relationship with chains such as Lidl, Tesco and Kellogg’s.
Crosscare, founded in 1989 has seen increase in the amount of people using their services recently. It moved from its one-room facility on Portland Row to the large warehouse unit in Dublin 11. It aims to ship 750 tonnes of food to various charities this year.
The emergence of a ‘new poor’ is being seen in the type of people that avail of Crosscare, said Michael McDonagh, Senior Manager.
“There was a man last week who had a family and was working but couldn’t afford the shopping. It was a very simple story: his car failed the NCT and he had to save money for the repairs. The only thing he could save money on was the food shopping, and he was very hungry.
“There’s a large number of people stuck in inequality.”
Hughes said Burton’s appearance last week was ‘shameful’: “She was smiling and cutting a red ribbon. It’s not a joyous occasion.
“We keep getting told that our welfare system is second to none in Ireland. Why’s it not working?”
McDonagh did not want to attribute the increased number of Crosscare users solely to the government.
He said: “People now know that they exist, thanks to the coverage of food banks in the UK. People in Ireland are starting to look for similar services and we’re getting better at reaching communities.”
Image: Aura McMenamin