Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Social Protection, Willie O’Dea TD has said with such significant levels of deprivation in Ireland, the Minister for Social Protection must do more to provide opportunities to lift people, and families, out of poverty.

Deputy O’Dea was commenting following the publication of the latest Eurostat report which focused on material deprivation.

“The findings of the Eurostat report confirm what many of us already know; that there is large cohort of people for whom there has been no recovery and many are struggling to live normal, active and healthy lives.

The findings are simply shocking. Across Europe, 13.0% of the population, aged 16 or over, said that they weren’t in a position to get together with friends/family for a drink or meal at least once a month due to lack of resources.

People in Ireland fare far worse that the European average with nearly 1 in 5 people (18%) saying they struggle to get together once a month with friends or family.

“When we compare this to our European neighbours in Finland (1.5%) or Sweden (0.8%), it’s clear that the purported economic recovery is still to be felt across vast swathes of Irish society,” said the Limerick City TD.

“Additionally, we are facing a social time bomb with the report showing that 1 in 8 Irish people cannot afford to participate in leisure activities.

“An increasingly sedentary lifestyle, brought on by a lack of resources, will lead to greater levels of obesity resulting in higher a prevalence of diseases such as diabetes or heart disease.”

“What is deeply disturbing is that this figure increases to 1 in 16 (15.8%) for people aged 25 and under. An entire generation may never know the value, and enjoyment, that comes from sport, recreation and leisure activities.”

“The Government herald, every number of months, the fallings levels of unemployment, and this is welcome, but unless deprivation, poverty and social exclusion are tackled in conjunction with unemployment, we are failing a large part of the population.”

“If the Government are serious about creating a fairer Ireland they must put an end to the two-tier society and work to create an economy and a society that works for everyone not just the privileged few,” concluded O’Dea.