Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Employment Affairs & Social Protection Willie O’Dea TD says the true extent of deprivation in Ireland has been exposed after it was revealed that the government spent more than €5m on food aid this year to date.

The figure is contained in a Parliamentary Reply to Deputy O’Dea.

“The government has spent €5.2m so far this year though the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD), which provides food and basic consumer products to people most at risk. In 2018 the Government spent €5.5m on the FEAD programme and distributed over 1,300 tonnes of food to almost 152,000 people in communities throughout the country, either in the form of food parcels or as meals prepared by charitable organisation. It looks likely that the government will either match or exceed its spending for 2018 this year”, said Deputy O’Dea.

“This level of funding highlights in very stark terms the fact that after 9 years of Fine Gael in government, not all sections of society are sharing in the economic prosperity and have to rely on assistance for such a basic necessity as food.

“Furthermore, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul said it expects to receive more than 50,000 calls from families this winter struggling to afford the basics; last week alone the organisation’s regional offices took over 5,000 calls from families struggling to heat their homes and put food on the table.

“Whilst the latest SILC data reveals a modest improvement in poverty and deprivation rates, it is evident that thousands of people the length and breadth of this county are still struggling to make ends meet and are forced to rely on assistance and charity for essential items. Under Fine Gael poverty and deprivation remain significant issues and this data on food aid underscores the very real divide that exists in our society under its leadership”.