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Dissolution of Combat Poverty – more unfair Fianna Fáil/Green Party decision making

3 December, 2008

Speaking during a Dáil debate today on the Social Welfare Bill Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Social and Family Affairs Arthur Morgan TD described the dissolution of the Combat Poverty Agency by government as "a dishonest and cowardly move, which will silence an independent voice on the causes of poverty at a time when we need it the most. This is yet another example of Fianna Fáil and the Green's unfair decision making that has detrimental effects on ordinary families, working people and the most vulnerable in Irish society."

The Louth TD said:

"Fianna Fáil and the Green's have set about dissolving this agency without any debate. Instead they have chosen to hide behind a department report which did not even have 'poverty' within its terms of reference.

"Combat Poverty was established at a time of economic crisis so that the causes of poverty could be identified by independent voice.

"Ireland is in a recessionary period with unemployment figures soaring at and the public finances plummeting. Now more than ever families and individuals caught up in this economic decline need an independent agency that will develop and promote evidence-based proposals and measures to combat poverty in Ireland.

"Successive Fianna Fáil Social and Family Affairs Ministers have failed to address poverty in Ireland. They did not show any real commitment to address poverty in the good times and the government's decision to in effect close the doors of Combat Poverty shows they certainly have no intention to tackle poverty in the bad times. And times are bad. St. Vincent de Paul recently said that they are receiving more calls for help than at any other time in their history.

"Social and Family Affairs Minister Mary Hanafin claims that the functions of the Office for Social Inclusion division of her department within which Combat Poverty is to be merged will be decided between the staff of Combat Poverty and the existing division. Does she think us all so naïve that we actually believe a government Department will allow one of its divisions to define its own role? Responsibility for the division will lie with Minister Hanafin and it is unlikely this merged division will retain any genuine independence or power to examine poverty on its own initiative.

"People at risk of poverty and people who have fallen into the poverty will pay for this decision. I believe Minister Hanafin should be ashamed of her actions and this episode only serves to remind us the Government's disingenuous claims to be protecting the most vulnerable in society." ENDS

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