The bullish optimism as portrayed in the business sections of our daily newspapers is encouraging to many, as stock markets reach record highs across world markets. While this uplift brings prosperity to a minority, fresh data from the CSO paints a darker picture for many families throughout Ireland.
Unfortunately, the increasing number of people affected by grinding poverty is reflected all too accurately by the 32% increase in General Grant Applications received by Protestant Aid during 2014. A statistic that grimly portrays the existence of widespread need.
The fact is that 1.4 million people (30% of the population) are experiencing enforced deprivation, which tragically, is double that compared with the start of the downturn. This statistic can manifest itself in harsh ways – usually as a cold house, poor clothing or inadequate nutrition. Reflecting something of an imbalance in society, those most affected continue to be the unemployed, the sick, lone parents and perhaps most regrettably, children.
At the start of the economic downturn, over 65,000 children were identified as experiencing consistent poverty – today, that figure has doubled. In other words, the most vulnerable section of society have now become the greatest casualties of the recession.
One-in-eight children rooted in consistent poverty must surely be an unacceptable statistic on those who most need our protection?
At Protestant Aid, we didn’t need the CSO’s Survey on Income and Living Conditions to remind us of this dilemma. Each General Grant Application we receive tells its own story and with such a huge increase in these applications, it would appear that for the moment anyway, poverty in Ireland isn’t going away.