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Children of Wicklow and Ireland deserve a better Government response to child poverty – Jennifer Whitmore TD

Children of Wicklow and Ireland deserve a better Government response to child poverty – Jennifer Whitmore TD

Social Democrats TD for Wicklow, Jennifer Whitmore, this proposed the Social Democrats’ Dáil motion calling for the eradication of child poverty in the lifetime of this Dáil, in contrast to previous Government targets which sought to merely reduce numbers. The Government published a counter-motion which commits to a reduction target once again.

Deputy Whitmore, the party’s spokesperson for Children, has responded to the Government’s counter motion, saying:

“I am hugely disappointed with the Government’s rejection of our call to eliminate consistent child poverty. It is a missed opportunity for the children who continue to live in poverty in this State. Children in Wicklow and across Ireland deserve a better response than this.

“The Minister’s contribution was also disappointing. If we are going to address the problem of child poverty in this country, we must first acknowledge that the problem exists. Today, the Government has failed to do just that. Child poverty is all pervasive, it’s everywhere. It exists in Wicklow, in all neighbourhoods, in small and large homes and in public and private housing. What the Government has set out today will affect children here in Wicklow.

“The Social Democrats’ motion calls on the Government to set an ambitious target to eliminate consistent child poverty; to put into law this new target; and to implement and resource it. All else has been tried and tested and hasn’t worked.

“Since the early 1990s, past efforts by Governments have failed time and time again to meet child poverty reduction targets. It is clear that what is needed is a systemic change and a change in the direction the Government takes. Do not set a target to reduce poverty – eliminate it altogether.

“The Government is intent on setting a reduction target in the forthcoming National Children and Young People’s Strategy but we know this will fail. It will fail because setting a target to reduce is just setting a target for the number of children the Government will keep in poverty.

“As Spokesperson for Children, I don’t believe it is okay for any child to live in consistent poverty. Any number of children that do live in deprivation is a reflection of the failure on this and past Governments to address poverty.

“What more does it take for the Government to change its stance on the issue? We have an enormous amount of evidence to show that elimination, legislating, implementation and resourcing is what is required at this stage. There are 12 reports alone on child poverty and one parent families. We don’t need any more. What we need is action.

“The children who were living in consistent poverty in the last recession are about to live through another one. That is a hard fact to digest and, despite the disappointing response from Government today, it is something that, for myself and the Social Democrats, will remain a priority.

“We are calling on the Government to withdraw their counter motion and allow the Dáil to vote tonight [Wedn 30th Sept] to set an ambitious but achievable target of eliminating consistent child poverty in the lifetime of this Dáil. We owe it to our children.”

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