Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Employment Affairs and Social Protection Willie O’Dea has said that hollow soundbites from Ministers completely out of touch with the reality on the ground do nothing for the thousands of people living in consistent poverty. Deputy O’Dea was commenting on International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.
“The Government’s slick press and media operation cannot hide the unacceptably high rates of poverty in our country; I am calling on the Government to address poverty in Ireland through a series of targeted, funded and measurable actions.
Deputy O’Dea added: “Poverty and social exclusion continue to blight Irish society. There are thousands of people struggling to keep their heads above water who desperately need a government that is responsive to and focused on their needs.
“Whilst Fianna Fáil secured some welcome measures for those dependent on social welfare in Budget 2018, the Government needs to be more proactive when it comes to addressing poverty and social exclusion.
“We cannot allow the current situation of 25.5% of the population experiencing deprivation, with 8.7% of the population in consistent poverty to continue.
“The scandal of approximately 3,000 children living in emergency accommodation as a result of familial homelessness; lone parents struggling to make ends meet because of punitive changes made to the One Parent Family Payment and thousands of pensioners, particularly women, being denied a full State Pension due to gross inequality in our pension system must be addressed.
“It’s now very much clear that concrete, targeted action must now take place to address these issues otherwise we risk leaving vast swathes of our population behind.
“Our ambition for Ireland is a country that works for everyone, and not just a few.
‘Fianna Fáil will bring forward a motion tomorrow in the Dáil calling for the changes made to the pension in 2012 to be reversed. The current system is deeply unfair and thousands of women are being denied a full State pension which is causing a great deal of worry and also financial hardship. It is imperative that we take steps to address this and ensure that older people have an adequate income in retirement.
“The Government’s slogan, a ‘Republic of Opportunity’, means nothing to the thousands of people living in deprivation; for the thousands of children still living in emergency accommodation; for those who have not experienced an economy recovery; for those struggling to find stable and secure employment and for those coping with spiralling housing and childcare costs.
“The time of simply talking about ending inequality and lifting our fellow citizens out of poverty must come to an end. It’s time to deliver a serious, targeted and measurable strategy. Eradicating poverty is ambitious but it can be achieved if the political will is there,” concluded O’Dea.