Mick Wallace The #US and #EU are increasingly using #sanctions as a weapon against countries that don't bow to their financial i… https://t.co/qMbVI1XYfc
Mick Wallace How bad that the #EU of the so called 'European Values' has supported this Terrorism against the people of #Syriahttps://t.co/wRXMSubfYi
Mick Wallace Western Colonialism never really stopped, it just got a make over - It's now called 'Financial Imperialism'. Are we… https://t.co/KoMpQ69bBw
Mick Wallace RT @wallacemick: Would mean something for Irish people and the notion of 'Irish Neutrality' if Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs @simoncov

ghOn Wednesday April 18th the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill was debated in the Dáil. Mick addressed the dificulties encountered by  of two single parents in county Wexford due to changes to the social welfare system. 62.7% of single parent families are at risk of poverty, showing the inequalities of the current system. He also points out that the percentage of irish people at risk of poverty is well above the European average. You can watch Mick's speech here while the full transcript is below.

I realise full well the Minister has a difficult job and if she is told to cut a certain amount to try to make it work, it will not be easy. Obviously, I do not agree with the fact she is told to cut so much in the first place. I would have rather seen the money raised through a higher increase in the tax bands for the better off. It is unfortunate the Government has decided to cut this Department’s funding so much but since it is doing so, it is a fairly impossible task not to hurt many people. There is little doubt one-parent families seem to have taken the severe brunt. I was glad to hear the Minister is thinking of rowing back a little on it. That is positive. I am not one to criticise a person for changing his or her mind. Those who cannot change their mind cannot change anything. I hope the measures will alleviate problems for many vulnerable persons. Recently, I met two women in Wexford who asked to see me - a girl called Deirdre who had been working continuously for 14 years and a girl called Ruth who had been working continuously for ten years. They had lost their jobs and become single mothers in a short space of time. They told me their stories, even about accessing social welfare benefits. It took Ruth eight months before she could get anything and she found it difficult to make progress in getting the money she thought would naturally be there for her if she ever lost her job, given she had paid tax for so long. Deirdre is still trying to get help. She admitted the father of the child was paying her a small sum of money and as a result, she has not been able to access the benefit. She was told they did not believe her figures because she could not possibly be living on the small amount of money the father of the child was giving her, and that problem is still not solved. There are so many in a difficult place today, and these are only two problems. A big problem as a result of the austerity measures implemented has been that not only have people become poorer, which is a natural result in a recession and we have come a long way down from the 2006 and 2007 levels of living standard, but also our society has grown much more unequal in that time. It is interesting to look at comparative figures for Ireland and Europe in regard to the numbers at risk of poverty or social exclusion, which is determined as having to live on less than 60% of the average income. I studied certain graphs which demonstrated that in 2007 the percentage of the population in Ireland that was considered at risk of poverty or social exclusion was 23% whereas the European average was 20%. In 2010 the European figure had risen by just 0.2% whereas Ireland’s had risen to 29.9%, which is frightening. Households with dependent children are even more at risk of poverty or social exclusion. In 2007 the European average in this regard was 19.6% and the figure for Ireland was 24%, but while the European figure has remained pretty stable since then, the figure for Ireland has increased from 24% to 34%, which is also frightening. Single adult households are taking the brunt of the recession in Ireland. The percentage of such households at risk of poverty or social exclusion in 2007 was 56.4% and it is now 62.7%. In other words, 62.7% of people who live in single parent households are at risk of poverty or social exclusion, which is an incredible figure for a developed country. Many of the less well off have been hit by the austerity measures but, sadly, it has developed in a very uneven way. We have seen the wealth of the top 10% grow in the past four years. I cannot help thinking that many of the measures introduced are something of a paper exercise. We sometimes do things that amount to false economy. We all accept the statistics that €1 spent on a child in a developed country saves the State close to €7 before the child becomes an adult. Therefore, it is not planning for the future to fail to take care of the young people who most need our help. In addition, the spending habits of those on lower incomes and on social benefits are beneficial to the domestic economy. People on lower incomes are inclined to spend all their money - they have to - so the domestic economy suffers when they do not have the money to spend. I would suggest 80% of the people in this country, perhaps 90%, have less money to spend now. However, the fact people from the lower strata have been hit the most by the measures in recent budgets has exacerbated the problem for the domestic economy. I could read out the list but Members have heard it all before. The list of areas where the less well off have been hit includes one-parent families, old people on fuel allowance, those on back-to-school and clothing allowances. It amounts to too much unfairness. I find it regressive. We need to start working towards tackling the level of inequality in our society, which has to be a primary aim if we want to make this country a better place.

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