Alliance Youth Chair Stephen Martin has expressed concern at a report stating there are over 100,000 children in Northern Ireland living in poverty and what such a troubling statistic means in reality.
Stephen said, “Surely in this day and age, no society can tolerate such a high level of poverty especially when it affects our most valuable resource – our young people. By not standing up and tackling the issues surrounding social deprivation and inequality, we are condemning a whole swath of Northern Ireland’s next generation to a cycle of poverty which will trap and prevent them from reaching their full potential. There is simply no excuse in a country such as ours that 44,000 young people are today in severe poverty.
The Lagan Valley representative continued, “With 2008 forecast to be a gloomy year economically with rising food and fuel costs, the numbers of poverty stricken young people are likely to rise. The numbers in this report represent real people, real lives, real problems. Listen to those at the cold face, engage with their needs and tackle the issues keeping them in the poverty trap.
“I call on the Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister to really make this their own and co-ordinate across government engaging with those who know first-hand what it is that needs to be done to deliver real progress and work towards making child poverty history. It’s a mammoth task but failure to tackle such a staggering poverty level would be a dereliction of duty by our leaders to all of us in Northern Ireland.”