[Sinn Fein]

10 July 2001

``Irish poverty rates are cause for concern'' - Sean MacManus

Sinn Fein Sligo/Leitrim representative Sean MacManus has expressed his party's concern at todays publication of the UN development programme league table measuring the extent of human poverty.

For the fourth year in succession, Ireland languishes near the bottom of the table and shows that 15.3 per cent of the states citizens are living in poverty. The worrying statistics also show that 23 per cent of the population suffer from functional illiteracy and cannot perform basic tasks such as reading a bus time-table.

Councillor MacManus said:

``The publication of this table reinforces what Sinn Fein has being saying for some time. The governments current strategy is isolating a huge section of Irish society. Children are living in poverty while Bertie Ahern seems more concerned with opinion polls.

``Ireland has the highest economic growth rate in the Western world yet we rank 16th of seventeen in terms of the distribution of our wealth. The government must change its approach of giving tax cuts to the rich rather than investing in adequate development programmes that will benefit the entire country.

``Another worrying aspect in this report indicates that men in Ireland earn up to 2.5 times more than women, the worst imbalance for any Western Country. This too, demands immediate government action.''

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