Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Dire Poverty is not something from the distant past

28 May, 2004

Sinn Fein spokesperson on Social, Community & Family Affairs Seán Crowe TD, speaking after attending a report launch by 3 leading charities today expressed very serious concerns at the levels of poverty and inequality facing disadvantaged families, calling it "frightening".

Deputy Crowe said:

"For the 2nd time this week I have seen the frightening figures which leave us in no doubt about the dire poverty and inequality that lurks in our society. Earlier, I attended the Dublin Simon report on the Homeless crisis and today, the timely report on Food Poverty and Policy brings home the stark reality that this Government is failing another large sector of our society.

"People may find it hard to believe that, in the fourth wealthiest EU country, over 40 breakfast clubs are run in Dublin for children who, without them, simply could not stay awake and alert at school because of the lack of nutrition in their diets. It may also come as a surprise to many that fruit and vegetables are simply unaffordable to many families and that disadvantaged people spend about one third of their household income on food. For many parents, access to food and supermarkets is problematic in itself as large housing estates and American style out-of-town shopping malls become the norm. Inadequate public transport systems and lack of private transport often force these people to resort to the local shop for necessities, causing more expense again for people already suffering from poverty and disadvantage.

"There is a need to acknowledge that there is a serious poverty problem here and that the problem needs to be alleviated at the root - preventative programmes, while welcome, should not be seen as anything more than an interim way of tackling the problems. Different departments of the Government must look at the causes of poverty and work together to alleviate these inequalities, departments of Health, Social Welfare, Agriculture, Finance, and Education should take a joined-up approach to improve the life and health prospects of people on the margins. This will benefit the wider community and the economy with less strain on the Health system and less spending on healthcare. This country is constantly fed the notion that we are a rich, prosperous, thriving

economy. What is not emphasised is that huge numbers of people depend directly and indirectly, on the excess unwanted food produced in the EU to feed them and their children. This is not progress - it is regress." ENDS

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