[Sinn Fein]

24th July 2002

UN report a shocking indictment of government policies - Crowe

Sinn Fein spokesperson on Social and Community Affairs, Sean Crowe TD has described the Human Development report from the UN as a ``shocking indictment of government policies''.

Deputy Crowe was speaking after the publication of the report yesterday that found that although Ireland ranked fourth-richest in the country it had the highest level of poverty outside the US. Deputy Crowe said:

``The Human Development report from the UN highlights in a very real way the inequalities that have and continue to exist in Irish society. That we can be ranked fourth-richest country in the world at the same time as having the highest level of poverty in the Western world outside of the US is a shocking indictment of successive government policies that have ensured that gap between rich and poor continues to expand at an alarming rate.

``Minister Kitts assertion that the data is out of date and that significant progress has been made in tackling poverty flies in the face of reality. Homelessness is increasing, the housing crisis is out of control, drug addiction in disadvantaged areas is at an all-time high, hospital waiting lists are as high as ever with recent government cutbacks ensuring that they will grow and our education system is in permanent crisis.

``While Minister Kitt might be able to point to the fact that more people are at work he is ignoring the fact that many of these people are under more pressure and find it more difficult than ever to secure access to vital services because they can't afford to pay.

``The figures that this report was based on were taken at the very peak of Ireland's economic boom and show a very clear failure on behalf of government to share the wealth, that was created in large by the ordinary worker, equally. As we head into a period of economic uncertainty we are already seeing government departments making cutbacks that will affect the less well off in society first and hardest. It is time the government stopped pandering to the economists, bankers and industry moguls and started addressing the massive inequalities that exist in our society.'' ENDS

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