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Ignorant punditry highlights need for real debate of what type of society we want

18 May, 2007

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Children and Young People, West Belfast MLA Sue Ramsey has welcomed the publication of an article by pundit Newton Emerson in the Irish News and said that it highlights the need for a real debate about what type of society we want to live in.

Ms Ramsey said:

"The difficulty when you get pundits, who in the rush to display some level of 'cleverness', only highlight the deep level of ignorance that exists about what poverty is and about how it impacts on people's lives is that it obscures the need for a genuine debate about the issue as it is here in this part of Ireland and about the impact of poverty across the globe.

"The truth is that while poverty is both a relative and a subjective issue, as is its measurement, that cheap smugness, particularly from the people who have lived deeply privileged lives, does nothing to move forward the debate.

"We need to ask ourselves as a society, and as politicians in the new Assembly, what type of society do we want to live in?

"Can we ignore the fact that children in the world are dying from hunger and preventable disease? Can we ignore the fact that 'wealth creation' comes at a cost in human terms? Should we ignore the poverty that exists much closer to home?

"A pundit such as Newton Emerson may want to sidetrack the debate by being mischievous about statistics; and it wouldn't be the first time that he has got his own facts 100% wrong but we should not let this disguise the fact that the experience of too many of our children is one of poverty both in relative and absolute terms.

"We need to do more than just quantify the numbers, although this is essential, we also need to come up with a plan of action that eradicates child poverty because poor children are more likely to die young, to suffer from long-term debilitating illness and less likely to benefit from the opportunities of education and employment." ENDS

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