Wednesday 30 September
Covid 19 runs the risk of plunging thousands more families into poverty
In response to the Social Democrats’s Private Members Bill brought in front of the Dáil today (30.09.2020), the Children’s Rights Alliance and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul call on the Government to give careful consideration to the warning signs shown in recent months that Ireland’s child poverty could rise as a result of Covid-19. The charities urge Government to ensure Budget 2021 includes measures to prevent a generation of children being locked into a cycle of poverty as a result of this pandemic.
Speaking in the Dáil today, Deputy Jennifer Whitmore TD raised a Private Members Bill on behalf of the Social Democrats on the issue of child poverty and the need for the Government to set a more ambitious target of ending child poverty 2025.
“We cannot ignore the lasting impact Covid-19 will have on our society. Already this year, we have received almost 80,000 calls to our regional offices requesting help and support to access the most basic of needs. The urgent response to Covid-19 was necessary but long-term plans must recognise and adequately address the issue of child poverty or we will see thousands more families plunged into poverty. Right now, children and families are struggling to keep their heads above water with an unstable housing system, high childcare, energy and education costs,” adds Tricia Keilthy, Head of Social Justice and Policy, Society of St Vincent de Paul. “Now more than ever, it is essential that child poverty is held as a political priority across Government departments and throughout the political system.”
Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance, Tanya Ward says, “The reality in Ireland is not one that many want to face up to. There are over 90,000 children living in consistent poverty, constantly struggling to access nutritious meals, education or the healthcare they need. This number is already too big for a country in our economic position but the situation is even more worrying when we look at those at risk of falling into a cycle of poverty. Almost 200,000 children are currently at risk; 200,000 childhoods are hanging in the balance as we wait to see if our economy recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Child poverty is not inevitable and although Covid-19 presents new challenges, there are measures we can still take through the Budget that would ensure that the commitment to the children of this country holds true. Every child deserves every opportunity to reach their full potential and this should be at the heart of Government policy and legislation as we work to ensure that our youngest and most vulnerable citizens are not further impacted by this health pandemic. We welcome the renewed focus by Deputy Whitmore and echo the call for a more ambitious political response.”
Both the Children’s Rights Alliance and Society of St. Vincent de Paul support the call on Government to:
• Agree on and legislate for a new target of eliminating consistent poverty within the lifetime of this Dáil
• Establish a Special Oireachtas Oversight Committee on Child Poverty to monitor the implementation of this target
• Establish a Child Poverty Unit headed by the Department of the Taoiseach that would take a cross departmental approach
“We know the target for reducing child poverty in 2020 will not be met by the end of this year. It is up to the new Government now to decide how big a priority ending child poverty will be going forward,” concluded Tanya Ward. “This Bill is an opportunity for them to tell us just how much value they place on their own commitment to create a more equal, just and compassionate society for every child.”
Contact: Emma Archbold Children’s Rights Alliance, Tel: 01-662 9400 / 0879971410, Email: email@example.com
Notes to Editor:
• Julie Ahern, Legal and Policy Manager, Children's Rights Alliance is available for interview.
• Tricia Keilthy, Head of Social Justice and Policy, SVP Ireland is availabe for interview.
ESRI Research Report: Child Poverty in Ireland and the Pandemic Recession
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About the Children’s Rights Alliance
• Founded in 1995, the Children’s Rights Alliance unites over 100 members working together to make Ireland one of the best places in the world to be a child. Further information is available at: www.childrensrights.ie or on Twitter, @ChildRightsIRL.