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McDonald - Report shows that Government is incapable of dealing with poverty

29 January, 2004

Sinn Féin EU Parliament candidate Marylou McDonald has claimed the report by CORI today showing that 20% of households living in poverty are headed by someone in employment exposes a problem that "this Government is mentally and ideologically incapable of dealing with." Pointing to massive increases in calls for assistance from employed people to Vincent de Paul last year, McDonald went on to point to regressive stealth taxes such as the Bin Charges and the failure of the Government to take on vested interests and big business as reasons for increasing levels of poverty.

McDonald said: "This is the latest in a series of indicators that Ireland is increasingly dealing with rising numbers of working poor, a group of people this Government is mentally and ideologically incapable of dealing with.

"The Government's response to poverty over the last seven years has been a blank assumption that employment will solve everything. The idea that someone could be working long hours in backbreaking labour and still be living in poverty is a notion they find incomprehensible. But this CORI report indicates almost 20% of households living below the poverty line are now headed by someone in employment. Many more are headed by people outside the labour force who are retired, ill or on disability.

"According to St Vincent de Paul's annual report the number of calls for help they received in Dublin alone increased by 94% last year. The fastest growing group of people seeking the society's help are people who are working, but on low incomes, the type of people crippled by the regressive stealth taxes Minister McCreevy is so fond of.

"Since 1997 this Government has concentrated on tax cuts for the rich while avoiding the reality and ignoring what is required to seriously tackle poverty in Ireland. Job creation alone will not address the appalling inequalities in Irish society. To eliminate poverty in Ireland we need a Government willing to take on vested interests and big business. Instead we have a Government in their pocket." ENDS

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