Budget 'failed to get to grips with the real challenges'
Social Justice Ireland (SJI) has criticised the Government for failing to "get to grips" with the scale of the homelessness, poverty and health crises facing the country.
The advocacy group says, while Budget 2018 sees "modest" improvements, it also "lacks ambition".
"Irish people today are facing grave and persistent challenges in homelessness, in poverty and across a whole range of other issues," said SJI's Sean Healy.
"What we got in response is a Budget that is focused on low tax, low investment and low ambition.
On Tuesday, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe announced increased spending of €1.2bn in Budget 2018 to fund developments in the housing and health sectors and help pay for tax cuts and social welfare payment rises.
Mr Healy said that although "Budget 2018 sees modest improvements for some", it "fails to get to grips with the scale of the crises needing to be addressed".
"Irish people today are facing grave and persistent challenges: over 8,000 people, 3,000 of whom are children, are without a home; over 213,000 children are at risk of poverty; over 414,000 are experiencing deprivation, and 128,000 children are living in consistent poverty," he said.
"More than 90,000 households are on the housing waiting list.
"Ireland's two-tier healthcare system and the growing regional divide between those living in urban and rural areas are just two more of the challenges that Irish people are facing," he added.
Mr Healy said Budget 2018 must be measured "by whether it allocates sufficient resources to begin to address these crises and to achieve a more equitable distribution of income, wealth and opportunity in Irish society".
"On this basis, the choices made in Budget 2018 fall far short of what was required and what was possible," he said.