The Social Democrats will bring a Private Members’ Motion before the Dáil tomorrow, Wednesday, September 30, calling on the Government to set an ambitious target for the elimination of consistent child poverty in Ireland by 2025.

Jennifer Whitmore TD, the party’s spokesperson for Children, said:

“Our motion calls on the Government to firmly state that they will eliminate consistent child poverty over the next five years and asks that they make that commitment in law to the children of Ireland. With political will, this can be achieved during the lifetime of this Dáil.

“We want the Government to legislate for this ambitious target, and establish a cross-departmental Child Poverty Unit, headed by the Department of the Taoiseach.

“We must be ambitious. The Government must take the opportunity to eliminate consistent child poverty instead of just seeking to reduce it. It will take resourcing, but more, it will take political will and joined-up government. Every arm of this Government will need to be involved.

“The statistics are stark. One in five children under the age of 18 – that’s over 200,000 – are living in poverty in Ireland today. Of these, more than 90,000 children are living in consistent poverty.

“All previous Government targets to reduce child poverty have failed time and time again. These targets are meaningless unless there is a coherent, comprehensive and properly resourced approach, matched with the ambition to deliver.

“A child in Ireland today will have lived through two recessions. They have never known economic recovery or prosperity. The last financial crisis saw households with children experience the largest rise in deprivation.

“No child or family chooses to live in poverty – that choice is made for them by the State. As a State, we have allowed generation after generation of children to live in consistent poverty. This is not inevitable – it is a choice we make as a society on what we deem important.

“Increased funding alone will not address child poverty – a systemic approach, underpinned by legislation, is required. This will make it difficult for a Government to change direction, regardless of who is in power.

“We should want our society to be judged on how we treat our most vulnerable citizens during a time of crisis. We can achieve this by putting children’s rights front and centre of Government policy.

“Tomorrow, the Government has a clear choice: will it vote to be ambitious and set out to eliminate consistent child poverty – or will we just have to continue with this shameful tradition indefinitely?”

September 29, 2020

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