ICJSA launches position paper on poverty in contemporary Ireland

19 Jan 2009

19 January 2009
Embargoed until 1pm

ICJSA launches position paper In the Wake of the Celtic Tiger: Poverty in Contemporary Ireland

  • We caution that those who benefited least from the progress of recent years will pay the heaviest price – ICJSA
  • National Development Plan for People urgently required – SVP
The Irish Commission for Justice and Social Affairs (ICJSA) today launches a position paper In the Wake of the Celtic Tiger: Poverty in Contemporary Ireland at the Saint Vincent de Paul National Office at Sean McDermott Street, Dublin. 

Speaking at the launch of the position paper, ICJSA Chair Bishop Raymond Field said: “The theme of Pope Benedict XVI’s message for World Day of Peace on 1 January was “Fighting Poverty to Build Peace”.  In his message Pope Benedict said that ‘every form of externally imposed poverty has at its root a lack of respect for the transcendent dignity of the human person.’  In addition to addressing world peace and the impact of globalisation, Pope Benedict also acknowledged the many forms of poverty that exist in ‘advanced, wealthy societies’, warning us that ‘sooner or later, the distortions produced by unjust systems have to be paid for by everyone’.”

Bishop Field continued, “Last June the ICJSA published a position paper entitled Violence in Irish Society: Towards an Ecology of Peace, which highlights the connection between violence and social exclusion in Irish communities.  At that time ICJSA undertook to further research the issue of poverty.  Today’s paper In the Wake of the Celtic Tiger: Poverty in Contemporary Ireland is a deeper exploration of this problem and its consequences, not only for the individuals and families affected, but for our society as a whole.

“We are mindful that this position paper is being published against a backdrop of growing economic uncertainty that is reflected daily in the media.  Every day brings further job losses with the ensuing devastating consequences for the individuals, families and communities affected.  While we acknowledge the many pressures on Government and the need for difficult decisions at a time of economic crisis, the needs of the most vulnerable must not be ignored.”

Launching In the Wake of the Celtic Tiger: Poverty in Contemporary Ireland Dr Ethna Regan CHF, said: “The ICJSA’s objective today is to focus on the plight of the most vulnerable groups in our society, particularly those who benefited little, if at all, from our economic prosperity.  Poverty alleviation is not a luxury for prosperous times but a moral and developmental imperative for contemporary Ireland.”

Professor John Monaghan, National Vice President of the Society of St Vincent de Paul said: “The Society of St Vincent de Paul might be seen as being engaged in a modern day application of the story of the Good Samaritan. But we are about much more than that, because apart from providing friendship and support we must also continue to ask, both of the Government and society in general, the awkward question: ‘Why is the person we assist lying on the road in the first place?’

“As a matter of urgency a ‘National Development Plan for People’ is required to ensure enough money to live on, access to education, access to healthcare, and the development of strong and environmentally sustainable communities.  Such a development plan must also include a forum for discussion of the common good that includes people of different faiths and convictions, giving priority to the voices and experiences of the poor, disadvantaged and vulnerable.”

In conclusion Bishop Field said, “The ICJSA wishes to acknowledge the important contribution of community and voluntary organisations in the area of poverty eradication.  In particular I wish to express support for the vital work of the Society of St Vincent de Paul which, in a Christian manner, never fails to respond to all those who call upon its services.”


Notes to Editors

  • In the Wake of the Celtic Tiger: Poverty in Contemporary Ireland is divided into the following sections: Tackling Child Poverty; Poverty and Unemployment; Poverty and Disability; Poverty and Health; Poverty and Homelessness; Poverty and Older People; The Working Poor; Rural Poverty; and Poverty and the Travelling Community.
  • To coincide with the launch of In the Wake of the Celtic Tiger: Poverty in Contemporary Ireland, www.catholicbishops.ie is hosting a special feature which includes:

a video interview with Bishop Raymond Field on the position paper
a pdf of In the Wake of the Celtic Tiger: Poverty in Contemporary Ireland

  • The following having confirmed attendance for today’s launch:

-Mr Gerry Mangan, Director of the Office for Social Inclusion,
-Sister Imelda Wickham, National Head Prison Chaplain
-Mr Turlough O’Sullivan, Director General of IBEC
-ACCORD, Catholic Marriage Care Service
-Catholic Youth Care
-Crosscare, the social care agency of the Archdiocese of Dublin
-European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN)
-Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC)
-Inner City Renewal Group
-Inter Church Committee on Social Issues, a committee of the Irish Inter-Church Meeting
-Irish Senior Citizens’ Parliament
-Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice
-Loreto College (Secondary School) Swords
-National Traveller MABs
-Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice

  • Copies of In the Wake of the Celtic Tiger: Poverty in Contemporary Ireland are available from Veritas shops nationwide and through the Veritas website www.veritas.ie for €4.95
  • The role of the ICJSA is to support the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference in promoting the social teaching of the Church and to advise on issues of social concern, both nationally and internationally.
  • Established in 2005 by the Department of Social Issues and International Affairs of the Bishops’ Conference, the newly formed ICJSA combined the Bishops’ Council for Social Welfare and the Irish Commission for Justice and Peace
  • The mission statement of the Irish Commission for Justice and Social Affairs is as follows: ‘To promote the social dimension of the Gospel with a view to building the civilisation of love.’

Further information:
Martin Long, Director of Communications 086 172 7678
Brenda Drumm, Communications Officer 087 233 7797