Almost 1.4 million Irish residents, or 30 percent of Ireland’s population, were forced to endure “enforced deprivation” throughout 2013, the state’s Central Statistics Office (CSO) says.
New figures, published on Wednesday, offer a sobering insight into the socioeconomic impacts of Austerity Ireland.
The CSO’s research analyzed Irish citizens’ income and living conditions throughout the course of 2013. It found the rate of enforced deprivation in Ireland had more than doubled between 2008 and 2013.
“Enforced deprivation” is a form of poverty characterized by a lack of two or more basics required for a comfortable standard of living. Such benchmarks relate to the ability to afford adequate food, heating and clothing.
Recent European Commission data indicates the Irish face much higher levels of poverty and deprivation than other comparable EU states.
Trade unionist and political economy expert Michael Taft warns Irish society “is riddled with high levels of poverty and deprivation.”
He says the fact over 1.3 million Irish citizens are living in deprivation is a “social and moral indictment of the priorities of a government that privileges tax cuts over poverty-reduction.”
Since Ireland’s 2008 economic crash, the proportion of people in consistent poverty has soared by 100%, according to Irish think tank Social Justice Ireland.
Of almost 1.4 million Irish people living without life’s basic essentials, over 440,000 are children and more than 90,000 are pensioners, the group warns.
A frayed social fabric
The CSO’s report found deprivation rates in Ireland rose from 13.7 percent in 2008 to 30.5 percent in 2013.
Meanwhile, Irish citizens’ average income after tax plunged to €17,374 (£13,300) in 2013 – a decrease of roughly 2 percent on 2012.
Taft said 53 percent of Irish citizens who are unfit to work due to illness or disability lack basic requirements deemed essential for a reasonable standard of living. He described the situation as a “social obscenity.”
“With poverty rampant, with over 1.3 million living in deprivation, the Government is playing its tax-cutting fiddle while society burns,” he said.
The political economy expert added private and social housing tenants in Ireland are also suffering serious financial stress.
On Tuesday, during a visit to Ireland, IMF chief Christine Lagarde said the Irish populace were “heros.”
Her assessment related to Ireland’s supposed economic recovery, following a gruelling 4-year TROIKA bailout.
The IMF-EU structural readjustment program shredded Ireland’s social fabric, and sparked the highest levels of emigration the state has seen since the so-called Great Famine (1845-1852). One of Ireland’s darkest historical periods, the famine left a legacy of mass starvation and emigration in its wake.
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