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Cullinane calls on the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs to prioritise child poverty

7 July, 2011

Speaking at a meeting of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Children and Youth Affairs yesterday Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson in the Seanad David Cullinane called on the Minister to prioritise child poverty.

Senator Cullinane pointed to 2009 figures which showed that 8.7% of children were living in consistent child poverty with 18.6% at risk of poverty. He commented that given further increases in unemployment, underemployment and cuts in pay and benefits more children were undoubtedly living in poverty.

Speaking at the committee meeting Senator Cullinane said

“I welcome the establishment of the standalone Department of Children and Youth Affairs. It is crucial the Minister has the powers and responsibilities to drive real change in this area and robustly deal with children’s rights issues. One such critical issue is the need to deal with child poverty. 2009 figures presented by Barnardos show that over 90,000 children in this state were living in consistent poverty. There is no doubt that these figures have increased since.

“The best way to address child poverty is to seek a balance between child and adult income supports and access to quality public services. Cutbacks in health, education and other public services impact disproportionally on those susceptible to poverty. Reducing SNA’s in schools, long waiting lists for hospital appointments and cutbacks in education force more children into poverty. So too does reducing the pay of low paid workers and reducing welfare benefits of hard pressed families. The Minister must ensure that these issues are dealt with and redressed in the upcoming budget.

“I would also ask the Minister to deal comprehensively with youth homelessness, child trafficking and implementing recommendations made by the Ombudsman for children and vindicate the rights of children. The state must listen to children and ensure that we live up to the spirit of the proclamation and cherish all children equally”. ENDS

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