herald

Tuesday 17 October 2017

Crisis call after child poverty stats shock

James Reilly
James Reilly

Children's Minister James Reilly has confirmed the Government is calling an inter-departmental meeting after a damning report from UNICEF found there was an "incredible surge" in child poverty.

Dr Reilly (inset) described the bleak results, which placed Ireland 37th out of 41 OECD countries that measure child poverty, as "deeply worrying".

"I think we are all aware that nearly 250,000 people lost their jobs through the financial crisis that we had to endure and we are recovering from that now," he said.

"The Government are calling a meeting for November 6 to have a cross-departmental look at this issue and to put in place a mechanism to start addressing the issue of child poverty."

Dr Reilly was speaking at the Foroige National Citizenship Awards ceremony in Dublin Castle yesterday.

"It is deeply worrying and concerning to both myself and to the Government that we should find ourselves in this position," he said.

"But the best way to ensure we get rid of child poverty is to get people back to work and to give them a job."

The report, which was released on Tuesday, said 130,000 children became "poor" in Ireland during the recession between 1998 and 2012. Children were classified as being poor if their family income was less than €12,455 a year.

Dr Reilly's predecessor, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald (left), said it is now the goal of the Government to ensure that "far fewer children are impacted".

However, she said the report only covers as far as 2012, and believes the most recent Budget will have a positive impact on families in years to come.

"The Budget will begin to reverse those statistics as well," she said. "That would be our goal."

hnews@herald.ie

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