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Report on Irish economic success does not reflect widening poverty gap

15 October, 2004


Sinn Féin Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald has commented on the report by the Economist magazine, which has claimed that Ireland is now regarded as a role model for some of the EU's poorest states. Ms McDonald claimed that the Economist report did not 'reflect the reality of the widening gap between the rich and poor'.

The Economist magazine published the report entitled 'The luck of the Irish' yesterday, which found that Ireland had leaped from being one of the poorest EU member states in the 1980's to one of the richest today.

Speaking today Ms McDonald said:

"It would be wrong not to acknowledge the tremendous wealth produced over the past number of years. There is in no disputing that Ireland is one of the richest member states within the EU and that this is a result of a booming economy over the past two decades. However, the Economist report does not adequately reflect the reality of the widening gap between the rich and poor. Ireland has become an increasingly unequal society both economically and socially. Whilst this state is the fourth wealthiest in the world, it has the lowest level of social spending and the highest poverty rate in the EU.

"There has not been an even distribution of the wealth generated and this is borne out by numerous statistics including the ESRI and Combat Poverty reports which have shown that a fifth of people in the state are living in poverty. This is unacceptable as there is sufficient wealth within our society to ensure that citizens are protected by the state - unfortunately this is not the case.

"We have a Minister for Justice who believes that inequality is an incentive to the economy. This right wing strand of thought leads to a Œsurvival of the fittest‚ approach to society and pitting people against each other to compete for resources, when there is obviously enough to go around.

"Sinn Féin is committed to the eradication of poverty both in Ireland and across the globe. The needs of the poor and disadvantaged must come before the needs of the wealthy and big business. As a small step towards this, Sinn Féin calls for the level of social spending to be increased to protect our social, health and education services." ENDS

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