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McDonald - Government complacency inexcusable - one in three now dependent on welfare

22 August, 2003


Sinn Féin Dublin EU Candidate Marylou McDonald has slammed the government's complacency in relation to growing inequality in Irish society. She has described as disgraceful the fact that the government policy has resulted in one third of the population, the most marginalised in society, now living on less than 10% of the wealth created in the economy. She said periodic bleatings of concern are not enough and added 'we need to redistribute resources in a positive way, to invest in those parts of society suffering economic marginalisation and social exclusion, to redress inequality.'

Ms McDonald said:

"In the last week, three reports issued from the Department of Finance, FAS and the Department of Social Welfare all show that not only is the economy clearly in recession but that there is the real possibility that things could get worse. Economic growth is forecast to slow to 1.5% for the year, which when you account for inflation means that the economy is actually shrinking. Exports are falling, unemployment growing and total employment will only grow by 11,000 this year. Tax revenue is falling and the Finance department belatedly recognise that there is a €500 million gap between tax revenue and spending.

"But one of the most startling facts came from the Department of Social Welfare 'Statistical Report on Social Welfare Service' which highlighted that 938,999 people were in receipt of weekly social welfare payments at the end of 2002. In total when you include children and other dependents there were 1.5 million beneficiaries of social welfare in the 26 Counties or one in three of the population. However when you look at government spending in 2002, it accounted for just over €9.52 billion spending, that is 9% of the economic wealth created in the economy during the same year.

"It is unacceptable that government policy has resulted in one third of the population, the least well off, the most marginalised in society living on less than 10% of the wealth created in the economy over the same time period.

"Periodic bleatings of concern are not enough we need to redistribute resources in a positive way, to invest in those parts of society suffering economic marginalisation and social exclusion, and to redress inequality."ENDS

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