Ending child inequality and poverty must be 2016’s priority. As we launch our pre-election campaign, Rise Up, we’re calling on all of the political parties to prioritise children in their manifestoes.
Fergus Finlay, Barnardos CEO, said, “The Taoiseach recently said the elimination of child poverty was a moral imperative for any government. Yet child poverty rates in Ireland are a national scandal. One in eight children live in consistent poverty and nearly two in five experience deprivation – this means these children are going hungry, are without a waterproof coat or live in a poorly heated home.
“2016 is the centenary of the 1916 Proclamation and, crucially, the centenary of all it promised – including the fundamentally symbolic commitment to cherishing all children equally. Even before we celebrate that centenary, Ireland will see a general election. We cannot let the election pass without demanding concrete action to address the moral imperative of child poverty. We cannot celebrate the centenary without challenging the many inequalities that allow child poverty to flourish.
“There are many things which need to happen to challenge inequality. Barnardos is calling for concrete action in five areas of a child’s life;first year of life, early years, education, health and housing. We are demanding change that will have an immediate and real impact on lives as part of a broader strategy to end societal inequality that unfairly affects children.”
Mr Finlay added, “The economy is growing, unemployment is falling, tax cuts are promised in the next Budget. Why, against this background, should we tolerate for a moment longer the kind of choices that are perpetuating poverty and deprivation among Ireland’s children?”
June Tinsley, Head of Advocacy, Barnardos, said, “In Ireland today one in six children are facing food poverty, children from low income families are waiting far longer for essential health treatments and the number of children becoming homeless just keeps rising. This is setting a cohort of children a series of unfair and often insurmountable challenges – effectively telling them they are not worthy enough to have the same hopes, dreams and aspirations as other children.
“That is simply unfair and it is time we said enough is enough. 2016 must mark a turning point for children in Ireland. It must be the year politicians make the decision to support all children and take concrete steps to end child inequality.”
Notes to editors
Barnardos is launching its Rise Up for children campaign today. In the run-up to the General Election we will be releasing research and analysis highlighting the impact of inequality on children and demanding action from political decision-makers.
Rise Up key campaign objectives
1. Politicians must promise to safeguard the first year of a child’s life
Invest sufficiently in Tusla, the Child and Family Agency
2. Politicians must increase investment in early childhood care and education
Increase spending on early years to meet the international average of 0.8% of GDP
3. The State must provide free primary education
This would require an annual investment of €103.2m, equating to just €185 extra per pupil
4. Politicians must guarantee access to primary care services for all children when they need it
Guarantee one fully operational Primary Care Team for every 1,500 children
5. Politicians must promise to ensure a secure home for all children
Stabilise rents over time by linking rental prices to the Consumer Price Index and raise rent supplement levels to help struggling families now
As part of this campaign, Barnardos is looking to start a public conversation about child inequality in Ireland. With our campaign website, we are telling stories of child inequality in Ireland and building political pressure by inviting people to contact those key politicians and political leaders who can make a difference. The website will be developed further with stories of inequality as the campaign continues. For more information, visit www.barnardos.ie/riseup.
- One in eight children are living in consistent poverty
- Two out of every five children are experiencing material deprivation
- One in six children are now experiencing food poverty
- An estimated 10% of people in Ireland own around 60% of the total wealth
- 1,318 children were reported homeless in June – an increase of 52% since January
- Children aged three years from the poorest households are 62% more likely to not get treatment due to waiting list delays than children from the wealthiest households