[Sinn Fein]

5th September 2002

Crowe tackles government record on tackling inequality

Reacting to the publication of the Combat Poverty Agency's Annual Report Sinn Fein spokesperson on Social and Family Affairs, Mr Seán Crowe has criticised the government's record on tackling inequality.

The Dublin South-West TD said, "Sinn Fein has consistently made the point that the gap between rich and poor has been widening during the era of the Celtic Tiger. This report backs up our claims, stating that 22% of the population is government's living below the relative poverty line, this amounts to more than 800,000 people.

Despite the fact that the State's coffers are full this was an increase of 8% on the figures for 1994. The marginalised and vulnerable had no place in Charlie McCreevy's Ireland. The cutbacks announced since the coalition government was elected are only going to worsen the situation. Millions of Euros have been taken out of Health spending and the state's decision to raise third level fees makes quality education, one of the best supports for getting people out of poverty , all the more unaccessible to the disadvantaged in Irish society.

People are dieing as a result of the government's indifference. People in the lowest socio-economic groups are still far more likely to die from circulatory diseases, cancer and other illnesses than the well-off, the people who have done best from five years of McCreevy economics. Health inequality reflects wider inequality and deprivation in Irish society. The government has failed to tackle it and the gap between rich and poor, between the haves and have-nots continues to widen.

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