Issue 33

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MacSharry looks for poverty debate

Mark McSharry (FF, industrial & commercial) sought a debate on poverty in Ireland in the Seanad (Seanad Eireann, Debates, 2nd May 2012, 118-119). The Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice had launched an on-line calculator, based on 13 years of research, to determine the precise level of income required by a household to eat, clothe and pay important bills.  Families were suffering and still no decisive action had been taken on mortgage arrears.  The partnership, along with the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) revealed that some families had to live on as little as €15 for groceries per week.  He added:

‘Collectively, we are failing on a weekly basis to provide for the protection of basic levels of income for these people.  It would be useful for the civil service and departments to use the calculator to help determine the effects of any proposed reductions or increases on social welfare rates’. 


Later, the Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, described the research by the Vincentian Partnership as one of a number of research models that presented useful information and was studied with interest by her department (Dail Eireann, Debates, 15th May 2012, 405).   Later, she told the Dail that the government had recently revised the national poverty target to meet Ireland’s contribution to the Europe 2020 strategy (Dail Eirenn, Debates, 22nd May 2012, 257).  The revised aim was to reduce consistent poverty (the Irish measurement system – ed) from 6.2% in 2010, the baseline; to 4% by 2016 and 2% by 2020, lifting 200,000 out of the risk of poverty.  

> Government strategies on child poverty: Dail Eireann, Debates, 15th May 2012, 330-331.