THE lives of children have been made worse by cuts in child benefit, leading children’s campaigner, Fergus Finlay told a meeting in Celbridge.
He said there were now one in nine children living in poverty.
At the meeting in the Kildrought Lounge, organised by the Stop the NK Ambulance cuts group, Mr. Finlay, the CEO of Barnardos, the children’s charity, used the abandonment of the previously plannned Thornton Hall prison to say that the State would spend a billion euros in a decade on the prison to fill it with children who should have been helped in the first place.
Mr. Finlay said the neglect of children led to them drifting into gangs and ending up in places like the planned Thornton Hall. “We call ourselves a civilisation. A civilisation would find it intolerable that we are condemning so many.”
Mr. Finlay said children were the first and leading victims of austerity. “It is economic and social disaster for the future,” he said.
Louise Bayliss of SPARK, an organisation for lone parents, said lone parents were more than twice as likely to be in poverty as the general population.
Ms. Bayliss said 2012 closed all routes out of poverty and argued that lone parents were now discriminated against under job seeking regulations compared to married couples.
Martin Grehan of the Stop the NK Ambulance Cuts campaign said it “pisses me off” that some white middle aged men in suits earning €200,000 were imposing drastic cuts.