A third of Irish children are at risk of poverty. That’s one of the highest rates in Europe.
According to new figures from Eurostat, 34% of children here are at risk of poverty, compared with the EU average of 28%.
The survey was referred to by the European Parliament this week.
The figures were a “stark” reminder that the Government can do more to combat child poverty and social exclusion, said Focus Ireland advocacy and communications manager, Roughan MacNamara.
“One of the worst forms of marginalisation is not having a home and, sadly, there are more than 1,500 children, and up to 800 families, homeless nationwide. Childhood should be a time for children to enjoy and for young people to feel safe in their own homes.
“However, the reality is that, tonight alone, there will be over 1,500 children and their families who have no place to call home,” he said.
Focus Ireland said it has seen the impact of rising poverty and the numbers at risk — it has recorded a 44% rise in the numbers seeking its support, from 8,000 in 2012 to 11,500 last year.
Meanwhile, new research from Barnardos revealed that one in six children in Ireland is living in a household that suffers food poverty.
Children from the poorest households were found to be twice as likely to have a low birth weight as those in the wealthiest households.
The study also found that children’s maths and reading scores increase by 4% for every 1% more their parents earn.
The study was revealed at the group’s Rise Up conference, which focused on uncovering the impact of inequality on children. The conference featured international experts, national authorities and young people themselves.
Barnardos CEO, Fergus Finlay, said a century after the 1916 Rising, Ireland had failed to honour the pledge to cherish all the children of the nation equally.
“Our research reveals those in the poorest households spend seven times more of their disposable income on fuel and light than those in the wealthiest households; one in six children is now living in a household experiencing food poverty and households with children are 89% more likely to be in rent or mortgage arrears than those without”.
Barnardos’ head of advocacy, June Tinsley, said that with the economy moving in the right direction, the Government had a chance to turn the tide of inequality.
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