‘Interest of children must be at core of every executive department’ – Fearon
Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson hosted a major Child Poverty Conference, on Friday last in Belfast. The event had several speakers ranging from the EU to the Assembly, including Megan Fearon, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Families, Children and Youth.
Following on from this Ms Fearon took part in a debate on Child Poverty that took place in the Assembly on Monday 19th November.
Speaking in the assembly she said, “Child poverty is a major issue in society today. It is vital that we combat child poverty particularly in times of austerity. 120,000 children are living in poverty.
“That’s one in four children and one in ten children are living in severe poverty. Indeed, some of the most deprived areas in Europe are here in the north. We need to put pressure on the Dublin government during Ireland’s upcoming EU presidency, to have the issue of child poverty to the fore of the EU agenda.
“We need to ensure that it is a priority in the upcoming EU budget as well as in the European Social Fund. I welcome the fact that a recent executive commitment of £26m was made to support education, health, families, training and employment. All of these have the potential to impact positively in addressing child poverty.
Fearon continued, “There is also a commitment of an additional £80m funding to support the most disadvantaged communities. There is still much to do if we are to alleviate child poverty and that should be factored into future thinking and budgeting in every department.
“It may mean some being prepared to take a little less, so as the most deprived get a little more. The interests of children have to be at the core of every department in the executive. It is absolutely essential that we are able to give children the best start in life, to ensure a better and brighter future for them.
“There is a very clear link between social deprivation and educational attainment, and therefore in the long run, employability. Children from a “poor” background are twice as likely to leave school and be unemployed. Poverty is a vicious circle and it is vital that we break the poverty trap that families so often end up in.
She added, “Quite often, poverty affects one generation in a family after another. Reducing child poverty is not just important, it is essential.
“Every executive department must ensure that they have the interests of children at their core and actions should be assessed in terms of their impact on reducing the evil of poverty.”
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