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The Human Face of Poverty in Ireland
Categories: General
      Date: 25 / 02 / 14
     Title: The Human Face of Poverty in Ireland

 

COMMUNITY PLATFORM

Press release

Embargoed midnight Tuesday 25th February

 

As we exit recession we must leave current austerity policies behind, says Community Platform

New report from Community Platform on the human impacts of austerity



 

COMMUNITY PLATFORM

Press release

Embargoed midnight Tuesday 25th February

 

As we exit recession we must leave current austerity policies behind, says Community Platform

New report from Community Platform on the human impacts of austerity

Today a new report by a network of 30 leading Irish national organisations working against poverty and inequality highlights the Government's failure to protect the most vulnerable in society. It warns that the dual attack of unemployment and relentless cuts at national and local level has pushed individuals, families and communities into poverty.

Now you see us - The human stories behind poverty in Ireland is a new report by the Community Platform, a network of 30 national organisations*. It features a series of interviews with families, single people, community workers and marginalised groups on how the recession and resulting government policies have affected their lives. The publication aims to reveal the human stories of those hardest hit by austerity policies and the devastation suffered by people on low income and social welfare throughout the recession.

The report documents parents going hungry to feed their children, people unable to heat their homes and a young generation at serious risk of being lost to unemployment, drugs and crime. Robin Hanan, speaking for the Community Platform said "As we move out of the recession we must also move away from austerity policies. The Government now has no excuse not to carry out poverty and equality impact assessments as a central part of all policy making. Too often the Government focuses on the bottom line and ignores the impact of persistent cuts on real people and communities".

The Community Platform has submitted its report to all members of the Government and opposition TDs.  Community Platform spokesperson Edel McGinley concluded "People on social welfare have been vilified and stereotyped as workshy and idle. This is simply not the case: our report shows that people do want to work, but austerity policies and lack of opportunity continue to trap them in unemployment and low-paid part-time work. It's time for our politicians to stand up for struggling families and communities".

Contacts

Robin Hanan, Community Platform Secretariat and European Anti Poverty Network Ireland

Edel McGinley, Community Platform member Migrant Rights Centre Ireland

Wayne Stanley, Community Platform member Focus Ireland

 

Below are some of the human stories behind poverty in Ireland.

 

Patrick - a community worker in Fatima Mansions in Dublin - warned that cuts to local services in Fatima have caused a rise in drug use and criminality in the complex.  He said: "I see gangs of young people we had working a few years back.  We had broken the cycle of people entering into criminality.  But the biggest impact of the austerity of the last four years has been a rise in anti-social gang culture. " He added: "Young people who may have been able to get a job a few years back are now drifting in to the drugs scene.  They end up in the criminal justice system or with a bullet. It's really that serious."

Patrick said the impact of cuts across community, health, education, training and employment services has slammed the door on a generation of people who now feel "there is no escape."  The local services helped to give people a pathway to keep them away from drugs and crime but youth services have been butchered and the community drugs team in the area has been slashed by 35%.

Tariq Chef Dublin:

''I was crying last night because of what is happening to me. I'm an honest person. I'm suffering all the time.  Every day I wake up I have in mind it's the start of a bad day."

Tariq has been living in Ireland for over 12 years with his wife and two daughters who were born here in Ireland.  It is their home yet they have been pushed underground and are living in poverty.

He said: Before the recession I was working in one restaurant for five years,  I had a visa at this time but the owner did not renew my work permit.  I feel he used me. I don't have status now."  He said he has been forced into working for low wages off the books in a number of places.  He said: "I'm illegally working, but what can I do?  If you don't have a permit there are no permanent jobs.  People are using me and not paying properly."

He added: "I'm not getting one cent off the social welfare.  I survive, sometimes eating, sometimes not eating so I can give food to the children."  The continuous stress has seen Tariq's health deteriorate and his wife is suffering from depression.    He said people have been very good to him and his family helping when they can but that the working situation is very bad and he feels trapped with no way out.

His mother is now dying in his country of origin but he can't even visit her. He said: "I'm scared all the time, my mother is dying now but I am not going to my country, I don't have a visa."