The struggles faced by poor people throughout the world were remembered today at a poignant memorial in the shadow of Dublin’s financial district.
A World Poverty Stone was unveiled near the Famine Memorial on Custom House Quay to mark the International Day for Eradication of Poverty.
The words – Whenever men and women are condemned to live in poverty, human rights are violated. To come together to ensure that these rights are respected is our solemn duty – are inscribed in the monument.
Written by Joseph Wresinski, founder of the International Human Rights Organisation ATD Fourth World, they can also be seen on more than 30 similar commemorative pieces around the world including the UN headquarters in New York and the European Parliament building in Brussels.
The text on the Dublin stone – which was sculpted by Stuart McGrath – is engraved in Irish, English and French.
Cllr Emer Costello, Deputy Lord Mayor of Dublin, said the event gave expression to the thousands of people who are living in poverty throughout the country.
“The erection of the World Poverty Stone at this location will link the struggles of Irish people living in poverty today with the struggles of the past,” said Cllr Costello.
“It will serve as a reminder to Dublin’s citizens that poverty knows no borders, is timeless, enduring, and is a global issue.”
The north inner city representative said she works on a daily basis with many communities which did not benefit from the Celtic Tiger and are suffering the effects of the economic downturn.
“I never fail to be impressed by their resilience, their ability to cope with their situations, and hope for the future,” she added.
The Combat Poverty Agency highlighted the challenges faced by Ireland in meeting its target to eliminate consistent poverty by 2016.
The agency’s Kevin O’Kelly said progress made in tackling poverty during Ireland’s economic boom wasn’t enough.
“There are currently 300,000 people in Ireland living in consistent poverty,” said Mr O’Kelly.
“In the current economic climate, we need a stronger focus on vulnerable groups such as lone parents and children, and we need concerted action to address problems such as health inequality and educational disadvantage. Tackling these issues now will deliver far-reaching benefits in the years to come.”