Reacting to the new CSO poverty figures for 2014, Director Robin Hanan said:
“These figures show yet again what we know from our members on the ground – that people on low incomes have been pushed beyond the limit of endurance.
We welcome the fact that the dramatic rise in poverty and deprivation rates seems to have stabilised, but it has stabilised at a completely unacceptable level.
“Even before the economic crisis of 2008, Ireland had one of the worst rates of poverty in Western Europe.
“What type of society says that it is OK for nearly a third of its people to suffer ‘enforced deprivation? It is not acceptable in a modern society that nearly a third of the population cannot afford basics like a warm coat or heating their home. The groups already experiencing poverty before this crisis have been hit hardest – the unemployed, lone parents, children, tenants, people unable to work through illness or disability. In addition, the erosion of protections at work means that a fifth of those working are now suffering from deprivation, three times the rate in 2008.
“The country has the resources to begin to end poverty once and for all. Over the five year term of the next Government, we can end poverty by funding an adequate and accessible welfare system, strengthening the transition to work, protecting the quality of work and investing in public services like childcare, health, housing, education and transport.
“To make this effective, Government and all political parties need to listen to people in poverty themselves and empower their organisations to promote solutions.
“Developing a five-year strategy to end poverty is complex, but two decades after the adoption of the first National Anti Poverty Strategy, we know most of what needs to be done. What we now need urgently is the political commitment and a concerted programme of investment to make it happen.
“We have a window of opportunity with the beginning of economic recovery and the return to fiscal independence. Ireland needs to grasp this opportunity with an ambitious action plan to replace the more aspirational and outdated National Action Plan for Social Inclusion (2007-2016).
“We cannot simply sit back and watch another generation trapped and slipping further into poverty and deprivation. It is up to all partiers going into the forthcoming election to explain how they intend to end poverty and reduce social exclusion.”