A new report claims that one sixth of the Irish population are living in poverty. The report entitled “Shaping Ireland's Future” found that over 706,000 Irish people are living an impoverished life, 200,000 of whom are children.

The research published by Social Justice Ireland urges the Irish government to acknowledge that the country has an ongoing poverty problem and that the social welfare system is not equipped to deal with it.

According to the data the poorest 10 percent of Irish households have an average disposable income of €210 ($274) a week, compared to an average of €2,276 ($2,974) per week for the richest 10 percent.

The report proposes that Ireland increases its tax take by 38.9 percent of the GDP by broadening the tax base. It also suggests the introduction of  third level fees re-payable by students loans based on salary after graduation.

“By making tax credits refundable, almost 113,300 low-income individuals would receive a refund and would see their disposable income increase as a result of the proposal,” the report stated.

“In practice a basic income recognises the right of every person to a share of the resources of society,” the report added.

Fr Sean Healy, Director of Social Justice Ireland said that 40,200 people had left Ireland in the last 12 months and that current austerity measures are contributing to Ireland’s brain drain.

“The austerity programme is contributing to Ireland’s loss of young people, the implications of which are stark as this loss will pose significant problems for economic recovery.” Fr Healy said

“The emigration ‘brain drain’ which in some quarters is being heralded perversely as a ‘safety valve’ is in fact a serious problem for Ireland and may well lead to a skills deficit in the long-term.

“The Government needs to adopt a strategy of making large scale job-creation interventions into the labour market, “ Fr Healy added.

SJI director Fr Sean HealyGoogle Images