Irish Republican News · February 21, 2015
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Irish society polarised as never before


New research has shown the 26 County state is now the most unequal country in the European Union for the distribution of income, and one of the worst in the western world for health inequality.

A report by the TASC research institute shows the gap between rich and poor is on the rise, with more than a third of all income concentrated in the hands of the top 10 per cent of earners.

With one in five workers on low pay, the system in Ireland is in danger of being “stretched to breaking point”, the report warns.

“Income inequality leads to poverty and social exclusion. But it also lowers demand in the economy in a downward spiral of lost spending,” said Nat O’Connor, director of Tasc.

“The concentration of income in fewer hands gives the wealthy more power to lobby for tax cuts that will disproportionately benefit them.”

Meanwhile, separate international research has shown that the gap in physical health between rich and poor young people is higher in Ireland than in almost every other country in Europe or North America.

When life satisfaction was measured according to socioeconomic background, Ireland ranked third worst in the world, after Greenland and the Netherlands.

The findings come at a time when inequality is starting the dominate the political agenda in Ireland.

After the European Union and the International Monetary Fund bailed out the 26 County economy and its banks in 2008, socialists have argued that the strict austerity conditions attached made the economy more unsustainable, not less.

For decades to come, every child born in the state will inherit a debt of some ten thousand euro as the state is forced to pay billions in interest on its bailout loans every year.

With ever increasing taxes and charges, and government politicians determined to re-inflate Ireland’s property bubble, the state remains one of the five most expensive countries of Europe.

Irish families are facing life on the streets for the first time since the great Hunger, according to leading homelessness campaigner Fr Peter McVerry, as up to a hundred home repossessions go through the courts every day.

Sinn Fein TD Peadar Toibin today welcomed the publication of the inequality research.

“We know from Eurostat and OECD data that Ireland has one of the highest rates of underemployment in the EU, and low pay in the developed world,” he said.

“The challenges facing low income households have been compounded by each of the regressive budgets introduced by Fine Gael and Labour over the last four years.

“Tackling the prevalence of income inequality is fundamental to ensuring Ireland’s recovery is fair and sustainable, but government’s attention must be equally directed towards fair taxation, equitable public service delivery and supports, as well as industrial relations policy.”

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