[Sinn Fein]

30th March 2003

Sinn Fein Ard Fheis 2003

Sean Crowe TD, speaking to motion 267 in the section on children

A quarter of a million children are living in poverty in the 26 Counties. Just under 100,000 of these children are experiencing enforced basic deprivation. The National Anti-Poverty Strategy set 2007 as the deadline for the elimination of chid poverty.

If the Government was serious about achieving that target, you would have expected massive investment in this area in the last Budget. But instead, Charlie McCreevy cynically targeted the most vulnerable and weakest section of our society and betrayed hundreds of thousands of Irish children.

Child Dependenet Allowance has been frozen since 1994. Child Benefit, recognised as the best way to tackle Child Poverty was to be increased, we were told, by between ¤31 and ¤38. Instead, it was increased by a truly pathetic ¤8 a week. The Back to School Allowance barely pays for a uniform let alone the books and other rising costs in our so-called free education system.

These children are going to school hungry, in clothes that keep them neither dry nor warm. In many cases they find no relief in their schools. Schools in every part of the country are rundown, in danger of collapse, have inadequate heating or one of hundreds of other problems.

There is a whole generation of children that is going to grow up abandoned by this State, betrayed by acts of criminal negligence by a right-wing Government, which can find the money to cut Corporation Tax, but not to tackle child poverty.

I call on the Ard Fhéis to ratify Motion 267 and show our support for the End Child Poverty Coalition which is working to keep the elimination of child poverty at the top of our national agenda.

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