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Irish Presidency must now take leadership on EU poverty

28 May, 2004

Sinn Féin EU candidate for the South constituency David Cullinane has called on the Irish Presidency to "use its considerable influence to help combat poverty within the European Union." Mr Cullinane made his remarks on the eve of a meeting to discuss poverty within EU member states.

The event, entitled: "Meeting of people from EU countries experiencing poverty" will take place tomorrow in Brussels (29.05.04).

Speaking in advance of the conference, Mr Cullinane said:

"The European Union needs to face up to the challenges that an enlarged union inevitably brings. Now, more than 65 million people live in poverty within the 25 member states. The Irish Presidency had the opportunity to prioritise the eradication of poverty and it has failed miserably.

"In the EU, the richest 20% of the population receive five times the total income of the bottom 20% - the present situation is unacceptable. Over the last number of years, the EU has increasingly prioritised an agenda focused upon economic growth and competitiveness. It has also become obsessed with militarism and the need to arm itself to the teeth with sophisticated weaponry. It would cost 100 billion euro to cut global poverty in half by 2015, yet the EU spends approximately 800 billion every year on military initiatives.

"Sinn Féin believes that as a matter of urgency, the European Union, under the stewardship of the EU Presidency must fight for agreement of EU wide targets and timeframes for poverty reduction and elimination. Protection for the most vulnerable in society must become a priority of the EU."ENDS

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