Wednesday, 6 February 2019
Children's Rights: Motion [Private Members]
If every child born in Ireland does not have an equal opportunity to succeed in life then Ireland as a country is flawed. Unfortunately this is the case. Ireland has failed many children. We are aware that children are living in consistent poverty all over the world. Ireland, however, is a wealthy country and no child in Ireland should be living in poverty. There is no doubt that Government policy is contributing to this disgraceful situation. The recovery in the economy still has not reached those who need it most and consistent poverty remains intergenerational in the most deprived areas of the country and in the most deprived minority communities. This cannot ever be acceptable. Consistent well-being, fair access to education and balanced development of children is of vital importance in allowing every child the opportunity to succeed in life from an economic, social and cultural perspective. This is not happening.
I listened to a radio interview yesterday about delivering hot meals to DEIS schools around the State on a pilot basis. This service is funded through the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. It was heartening to hear the little children's voices and their welcome for these hearty and nutritious meals. Credit where credit is due and bualadh bos. Homelessness, however, and children living in emergency accommodation is on a scale that is quite simply unforgivable, and will live long in the memory of this generation of Irish people.
Child homelessness did not just happen. It was caused by a fundamental failure in Government policy. It was caused in the first instance by the previous administration of Fianna Fáil and deepened by Fine Gael and the proponents of this motion, the Labour Party. I am happy to give my full support to the motion. Child homelessness is a shameful consequence of the blinkered and uncaring policies pursued by these parties then, and continuing in the case of some.
Focus Ireland, the Peter McVerry Trust, Barnardos, the Children's Rights Alliance and many others have consistently said that the policies employed by the Government are not working. These groups have warned about the impact the policies are having and will have on children's development and psychological well-being into the future.
Will the Minister, Deputy Zappone, indicate if anybody is listening? Is the Minister being listened to? I wish her well.