Irish Republican News · July 16, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Ireland second worst for inequality

The 26 Counties is second in the world in terms of the gap between rich and poor, according to a damning UN Human Development Report.

The published yesterday shows that while the state has the third highest GDP per capita on the planet behind Norway and Luxembourg, an extraordinary 15.3 per cent of people in the 26 Counties live in poverty. Only the US, with a score of 15.8 per cent, had a worse record.

The survey also showed that the state has entered the top 10 of the world’s quality of life league for the first time.

The index, an aggregate of economic performance, life expectancy and health and education standards, is the leading global measure of quality of life in 177 countries.

The Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Mr Tom Kitt, chllenged the statistics, which he said did not take into account other “relevant factors”. He claimed only about 5 per cent of the population live in what he termed “consistent poverty”.

The Department of Education also doubted the accuracy of the report, saying the figures used for illiteracy had not been updated since 1995. Some 22.3 per cent of Irish people are described as functionally illiterate, worse than in any other Western country.

Sinn Féin MEP for Dublin, Mary Lou McDonald, has criticised the response of government departments, which he said weer “in denial”.

Ms McDonald said the Irish people cannot be asked to “put any faith in a Government which insists on telling it black is white, instead of actually dealing with the problems presented to it.”


Meanwhile, Dublin’s Foreign Affairs Minister Brian Cowen yesterday announced an extra 1 million Euros in funding for organisations working with Irish emigrants in Britain.

He said his department had now allocated 5 million Euros to emigrant services in Britain this year under the scheme and other initiatives.

Most of the money has already been allocated to such organisations under the Dion Fund to help “less advantaged” members of the Irish community in Britain.

The word ‘Dion’ means ‘shelter’ in Irish.

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© 2004 Irish Republican News