Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Learning disability links demand anti-poverty response

20 September, 2004

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Disability, Mid Ulster MLA Gereldine Dougan has said that evidence of the link between low birth weight, premature birth and learning disability, where there is an already an established link between poverty and birth weight, provide a compelling case for the need for an anti-poverty strategy.

Ms Dougan said:

"It is clear that the failure of direct rule ministers to develop a coherent anti-poverty strategy has very serious consequences. In failing to address the issue of poverty and social exclusion, the British government is contributing to higher level of learning and physical disability.

"The revelation on Panorama that 40% of premature babies have significant levels of learning disability, and that a quarter are left with physical disabilities such as cerebral palsy, blindness, deafness and arrested development demands action.

"The established links between poverty, low birth weight and increased risks of premature birth demands a comprehensive anti-poverty strategy.

"Levels of poverty in the Six Counties, and indeed throughout Ireland are unacceptable. Both the British and Irish governments have consistently failed to deliver an effective strategy to eliminate poverty, or at the very least, address the many socio-economic inequities which continue to have a detrimental effect on quality of life.

"Sinn Féin will continue to demand that the issue of poverty and social exclusion remain high on the political agenda." ENDS

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