[Sinn Fein]

9 November 1998

Poverty Gap Widening

Sinn Fein representative and Sligo Alderman Sean MacManus has welcomed the report from the Conference of Religions of Ireland (CORI) Justice Commission which highlights that the gap between rich and poor is widening. The report comes after another report from the UN which identified that 15.2% of the population are living in poverty.

Alderman MacManus said:

``Today's report from CORI clearly shows that the Irish government is failing to deliver equality in this time of growing economic prosperity. In past periods of economic growth, we were told that the ``rising tide would lift all boats'', but it is clear that it was the big ships which sailed on the tide, while the small boats take on water and sink.

``In recent years successive governments have highlighted their ongoing National Anti-Poverty (NAP) strategy. This report shows that the NAP is clearly failing and that benefits of ecoomic growth are not being shared at the most basic levels.

``Never has a government had a more favourable economic climate in which to cultivate equity and share prosperity. The fact that the state is bottom of the league in standards of literacy, unemployment and income disparities between men and women speaks volumes. If we cannot create a society where everyone can read and write, have proper employment and fair wages, what is the point in living in the so-called Tiger Economy?

``If the Celtic Tiger is to be more that a symbol then the government must spread its benefits across the lines of economic division. If this government is to seriously tackle the wide ranging inequalities that permeate our society, we need new ideas and strategies and the political will to begin the fightback againt poverty.''

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