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Child Poverty in Ireland

7.12.2005

On Thursay last, Barnardos has the unfortunate timing to launch their Annual Report. The report details what appear to be over 148,000 children in this country who live in consistent poverty. This means that they may not have at least one hot meal a day and that their families earn less that 40% of the MEDIAN INCOME. These are the poor and the vulnerable of the future. These are the people whom the Celtic Tiger has left behind.
I know that the Celtic Tiger has come in for a bit of a beating recently but there is a clear and defined need to clean up some of the mess left behind by breakneck development and the creation of a individual-centric culture.
The result of a startling number of young people growing up in poverty is far greater than Welfare budgets. This issue strikes at the heart of democracy. These kids are on their way to becoming disillusioned, disaffected and alienated from our society. The impact that this will have on our democracy, at a time in history when it is likely to be under attack from the Apathy Party and international terrorism, cannot be underestimated.
There is a moral responsibility to look at the opportunities afforded to a child. All children are created equal, all children are entitled to the best standard of care and education a socitey can offer them and none should be prejudiced by their income or status. THis is a fundamental right and truth.
Yet in Ireland, it is being ignored. In the UK, newLabour made a serious run at child poverty and the sureStart programmes is one of the most successful progressive and redistributive measures implemented in years.
What is required in this country is a genuine effort to improve the lot of all irish children, strategy should by followed by action and action should be meaningful and aimed at the best interests of children. Early intervention and parenting groups are only the beginning, education, health and justice need to be seen to be done in the poorest sectors of our society. WE cannot afford to alienate more people at a time when we can afford to look after them all.
Freedom is not the preserve of the RIch.
RR

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