Wednesday, 21 September 2022
Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate
I welcome this opportunity to discuss this important document, Towards an Anti-Poverty Strategy for Clare, and its findings and recommendations.
Clare PPN is a network of 331 community and voluntary groups in County Clare. The Minister of State will be familiar with their work through their sister organisation, Meath PPN, in his constituency. The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission awarded Clare PPN funding through its grant scheme to carry out its research. Its report presents the findings from a nine-month research project led by Dr. Conor McCabe. The research is also informed by focus groups and two peer researchers, Ms Lily O'Donoghue and Ms Madge O'Callaghan. I attended the launch of the report yesterday evening in Buswells Hotel. The report points out key failures at national and local level in measuring poverty and, as the saying goes, what you cannot measure, you cannot address.
One of the key findings in the report is around housing, where the researcher drew upon data from the 2022 census. It states there are 58,148 dwellings of which 47,867 are occupied.
Some 4,912 are unoccupied holiday homes, and a further 5369 are vacant dwellings. Therefore, there are 10,281 unoccupied dwellings in County Clare, giving a vacancy rate of 17.68%. Another key finding relates to health. There is a glaring shortage of both dentists and GPs, the provision of which is well below the national average. In the case of dentists, County Clare has less than 50% of the national average. In respect of GPs, a figure of 33% below the national average was recorded. The report is clear on the lack of available data at the level of the State, local government and other relevant agencies to measure child or fuel poverty in County Clare.