Strategy to combat poverty 'more rhetoric than commitment'

Minister for Social and Family Affairs, Mary Hanafin today launched the Irish Programme for 2010, the ‘European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion’. However, in an inverview with Politico, Minister Hanafin could not commit to reducing the vast disparity in poverty rates around the country. Nor could she assure that further cuts to Community Development Programmes would not be made in 2010, the year dedicated to combating poverty and social exclusion. (Audio below)

(Pictured: Minister Hanafin, Chris Rice and Anne Degrand-Guillaud, European Commission Co-ordinator at the launch today)

Speaking at the launch, Minister Hanafin said “the immediate challenge is to maintain the progress made in recent years in tackling poverty and to protect those who are most vulnerable in the economic downturn. The government is determined to achieve the elimination of poverty. Restoring economic growth and sustaining high levels of employment are the essential steps to achieve that aim.”

Mary Hanafin was optimistic about reducing poverty during 2010. However, in recent days, Politico has reported that poverty rates are in fact likely to increase in the coming year.


Speaking to Politico, Sean Healy, Director of Social Justice Ireland said that today’s launch is “more rhetoric than real commitment”. 

Sean Healy says that this is evidenced by, among other things, the government’s failure to address the large regional differences in the levels of poverty. Recent poverty statistics show that 9.3% of Dublin’s population is in poverty compared to 22.7% in the Midlands region.

Community level work was praised by all the speakers at today’s launch. Pupils from the Ballymun Music Project performed for the gathering. Chris Rice, a Wicklow-man living in poverty also addressed the attendees; he credited a local men’s group with helping him cope with the economic and social implications of poverty. 

However, just this week Politico has also reported on the closure of 14 similar Community Development Projects due to budget cuts and the devastating effect this is likely to have on the community. 

When questioned about the regional disparity in poverty levels and the widespread closure of CDPs, Minister Hanafan was unable to offer any concrete policies in relation to these issues. She did however stress that family resource centres, which fall within the remit of the Department of Social and Family Affairs, have all been protected from budget cuts. 

Audio: Politico's questions to Minister Hanafin

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Audio: Mary Hanafin's Poverty 2010 speech

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