Fianna Fáil Press Office
Willie O’Dea TD
Spokesperson on Social Protection

24 December 2015

Two-tier recovery is robbing children of their childhood and their protection – O’Dea

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Social Protection Willie O’Dea has spoken of his concern about the scale of child poverty in Ireland and the fact that thousands of children are being left behind economically and socially.

Commenting on the issue Deputy O’Dea said: “while Christmas is usually a happy time for children, it is unfortunately not the case for every child. The scale of child poverty and deprivation is appalling in Ireland and is a reminder that there are thousands of children the length and breadth of the country that are going without basic necessities. The latest data from the Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) shows that the number of children in consistent poverty in 2014 was 11.2%. This equates to 1 in 9 children and this figure has increased considerably since 2008 when the rate was 6.3%. Moreover, the number of children experiencing deprivation has almost trebled from 13.5% in 2008 to 36.1% in 2014.

“It is appalling that in Ireland we have children going to school and bed hungry as highlighted in the recently published The Health Behaviours in School Children (HBSC) Survey which found that overall, 23% of boys report going to school or to bed hungry, while the corresponding figure for girls is 21%. On top of this we have an unprecedented homelessness crisis and at least 1500 children will be sleeping in emergency accommodation this Christmas.

“This is not the life that anyone envisages for their child and yet this is the reality for many children in Ireland. However, while the figures are shocking they are not surprising given the scale of the cuts that have been inflicted on children since Fine Gael and Labour took office.

“Children have been directly affected by cuts to the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance, Child Benefit, the Fuel Allowance and changes to the eligibility criteria for the One Parent Family Payment. Furthermore, the Government refused to raise Rent Supplement despite the very obvious need to.

“Children have borne the brunt of several regressive budgets and while the Government are talking about an economic recovery, it is evident from the statistics that there are thousands of children who are being left behind. The Government are presiding over a two-tier recovery and this will have long lasting negative consequences for years to come.

“We have had countless reports highlighting the importance of insulating children from experiencing poverty and social exclusion because children growing up in poverty tend as adults to be vulnerable to poverty, and yet the Government continued undeterred with their pursuit of an agenda that punished those who had the least to give. The damage done by this Government will have lasting consequences and in 10 or 15 years time we will unfortunately bear witness to a nation of young adults that will be deeply divided, deeply unequal and with very different life chances because of policies of the past. This is Fine Gael and Labour’s legacy in Government; children robbed of their childhood and robbed of their future”.

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Vivienne Clarke

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