Speaking Notes

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Speaking Notes

Dermot Ahern T.D.

Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs at the launch of the Social Inclusion Strategy 2000/2001 Annual Report of the NAPS Inter-Departmental Policy Committee

National Action Plan against Poverty and Social Exclusion 2001 - 2003

An Equality Authority Position on the National Action Plan for Social Exclusion (Equality Authority)

Monitoring Poverty Trends and Exploring Poverty Dynamics in Ireland (ESRI)

Monday, 16 July, 2001 at 10.45 am.

Gresham Hotel, O'Connell Street, Dublin 1


The National Anti-Poverty Strategy is the key Government mechanism for building a society where every individual and community has the opportunity and incentive to participate fully in the economic and social life of this country.

There are no easy solutions to the problems of poverty and social exclusion and the NAPS provides a framework for action to deliver joined-up responses to joined-up problems. The NAPS Strategy, the provisions of the National Development Plan, the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness and budgetary policy over the last few years have put in place the foundations and way forward for prosperity and inclusion. The IDPC Annual Report sets out the great range and depth of the Government's response to the issue of poverty and exclusion and sets out the policies which the Government has established to build an inclusive society.

The Report sets out progress made towards achieving the objectives and targets, set under each of the NAPS themes in the latter half of 2000 and early 2001, of which the continued decline in consistent poverty and unemployment are particularly noteworthy.

Key new developments in the fight against poverty are highlighted, such as the RAPID and CLÁR initiatives, which target the most deprived areas in the State for priority investment of funds provided under the National Development Plan. The Report also highlights activities under the NAPS that will be ongoing during 2001 and beyond: key activities include the review of poverty proofing and the extension of NAPS to the Local Authorities. In addition, in order to ensure that the Strategy remains relevant to the emerging needs of our changing society, the NAPS is currently being reviewed.

By the end of 2001, the landscape of anti-poverty and social inclusion work will have changed substantially in Ireland as a result of the ongoing review of NAPS.

ESRI Report.

The Inter-Departmental Policy Committee report is one of a number of reports being launched today. I am pleased to launch the ESRI report 'Monitoring Poverty Trends and Exploring Poverty Dynamics in Ireland'. The Economic and Social Research Institute have made many contributions to the National Anti-Poverty Strategy. The NAPS poverty target, set in 1997, is based on the ESRI measure of poverty, known as consistent poverty, which takes into account not only the household's income (which can vary from period to period in some cases) but also a range of deprivation indicators.

The ESRI keep the deprivation indicators under regular review to ensure that this measurement of poverty continues to identify a set of households experiencing a generalised level of deprivation that marks them out from the rest of the population. The ESRI have provided the first ever data on the dynamics of poverty in Ireland here today and their findings support previous work in relation to poverty, its underlying patterns and its concentration among certain groups.

EU National Action Plan against Poverty.

While Ireland was the first country in Europe to develop poverty targets, there is now considerable momentum at European level with regard to social inclusion. The EU National Action Plan against Poverty for the period 2001 - 2003 comes at a critical time in the development of social inclusion policy in Ireland. The Irish Government strongly supported the enhancement of EU activity in this area and the recognition that social policy - together with employment and economic policy - form three sides of the policy triangle. The EU NAPsincl will play an important role in developing social inclusion policy in the EU and Ireland will play a highly supportive role in this regard.

The Plan is the first in a series which will outline measures towards eliminating poverty and social exclusion. The development of each subsequent National Action Plan will provide an opportunity for review and evaluation of the effectiveness of the NAPS and its continuous improvement.

Equality Authority Report

I am also grateful to the Equality Authority for their contribution during the preparation of the National Action Plan for Social Inclusion. The position paper that they prepared and which I am launching here today assisted greatly in developing the equality dimension to the Plan.

The Equality Authority has a mandate to promote equality across the nine grounds of gender, marital status, family status, age, disability, sexual orientation, race, religion, and membership of the Traveller community.

Moving to a more equal society requires that we assist change in the economic circumstances of these groups, a goal to which we hope the National Action Plan will contribute. Equally, effective anti-poverty strategies require the effective promotion of equality so that our strategies take account of difference and that the full spectrum of opportunities are opened up for all.

The emphasis on access issues by the Equality Authority in their position paper is particularly welcome as is the work that they have done to assist customer service in the public sector to reflect the principles of equality and diversity. The focus on developing Equal Status Review and Action Plans, as provided for under the Equal Status Act, holds particular promise.

I look forward to ongoing work by the Equality Authority to develop our understanding of the poverty/inequality interface. The publication we are launching today will also be fed into the current review of the National Anti-Poverty Strategy, where the ideas will be further developed and explored.

NAPS Review

Together with the Social Partners, we are in the middle of finalising the review of the National Anti-Poverty Strategy which will be published later this year. The revised NAPS will have a crucial role to play in shaping future social inclusion policy and it is vital that we get it right. I would like to pay tribute to the energy and commitment that all those involved have put into the process to date.

The challenge now for us all is to ensure that the benefits of economic growth are fairly shared amongst all the community.

This will involve measures such as;

  • increasing the employment rate in line with the decision of the Lisbon EU Council;
  • putting in place an adequate system of income replacement for retired people in line with the PPF commitments; and
  • developing the structure of the tax system to deliver benefits and focus resources in an equitable manner as promised in the PPF.

All these issues can and will be addressed in the ongoing review of the NAPS. Working together we can ensure that we use the benefits of our economic growth to end poverty.

Last modified:05/11/2008

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