Fianna Fáil Spokesperson for Social Protection, Willie O’Dea TD has slammed the record of this Government in tackling poverty as statistics from the CSO released on Wednesday show that 30.5% people in Ireland now live in deprivation. This figure is up from 13.7% in 2008. The statistics also show that almost one in eight children now live in consistent poverty.

Deputy O’Dea stated: “These shocking statistics show how pointless the Labour party has become in Government. Having been elected to protect those who struggle to pay their bills from day-to-day or need a helping hand, Labour in Government have proven themselves to be one of the most irrelevant and out of touch political parties in our country’s history.

“Tánaiste Joan Burton’s record speaks volumes. Since becoming Minister for Social Protection, she has presided over approximately €1.8 billion in cuts to social programmes.  The number of long term unemployed has remained static at 180,000 for the past three years. 74,000 young people are still out or work and not in any education or training schemes, despite the fanfare surrounding the Youth Guarantee. Labour in Government has slashed the very supports which aim to protect vulnerable people, so it should come as no surprise that public confidence in the party has plummeted.

“These CSO statistics must act as a wake-up call for the Government. There is no point in the Taoiseach and Ministers preaching to the world about how Ireland is experiencing a strong economic recovery when our people and our society are still sinking into deprivation. I am calling on the Government to make poverty reduction its number one priority and to ensure that any recovery is felt by everyone, not just the top earners.  We cannot allow a two tier recovery to continue between urban and rural, the haves and have-nots. A new, all-encompassing poverty strategy must be developed by this Government to address this very worrying trend.”