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Scandal of child poverty must be addressed - Joe Reilly

13 December, 2004

Sinn Féin candidate for the Meath by-election, Councillor Joe Reilly has said, "child poverty is a real live issue which must be put at the top of the political agenda. It is scandalous that children are still going to school hungry in Navan in 2004." Councillor Reilly was responding to a report from Navan St. Vincent de Paul that said that children in the town are still going to school hungry.

Speaking in Meath at the weekend he said:

"It is scandalous that children are still going to school hungry in Navan in 2004. Child poverty is a very serious issue here in Meath and indeed it is a national issue. This is another example of the serious inequalities that exist in Irish society today.

"While the Government continues to paint itself as a more caring and sharing kind of Government, the reality is that children are still going to school hungry, children are still sleeping on the streets and up to 250,000 children are living in poverty in this state.

"At the heart of all Sinn Féin policies is the equality agenda. Sinn Féin believes that every child should be guaranteed as a right, access to quality food, shelter, education and healthcare and to an equal stake in society as envisaged in the 1916 proclamation. Reversing all of this means changing economic policies. It means shifting the emphasis towards social need and equality rather than corporate greed and inequality. It was with this in mind that we set out our pre-budget submission to prioritise children.

"Among Sinn Féin's proposals are:

  • a comprehensive package of childcare measures
  • parents to be allowed care for their children full time up to one year of age
  • increase child benefit to €150 per month for the first and second child
  • extend the medical card to all under 18
  • improve funding for primary education including school building programmes and schemes to tackle educational disadvantage."ENDS

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