Redlegs of Barbados
About 400 Irish descendants live in poverty today on an eastern Caribbean island called Barbados. One can date their ancestors back to the 1600s when Captain Joseph West sold the first 53 Irish indentured servants to the government of Barbados. Over time, a total of 50,000 Irish indentured servants would undergo transport to Barbados. The Irish descendants in Barbados received the name of Redlegs of Barbados because of their sunburns turning their pale white skin bright red from the hot tropical sun. Even after hundreds of years, their bodies still have not adapted to the unfamiliar heat conditions.

Their History

Oliver Cromwell, a political and military leader for England, led the invasion of Ireland in 1649 leading to his role in the transportation of the conquered Irish people to become the Redlegs of Barbados. It was his death that brought an end to the major transportation of Irish indentured servants and the start of the transportation of African slaves to Barbados.

Living Conditions

“School absenteeism, poor health, the ill effects of inter-family marriage, large families, little ownership of land and lack of job opportunities have locked those remaining on the island into a poverty trap. Even today the red legs still stand out as anomalies and are hard-pressed for survival in a society that has no niche for them,” says Sheena Jolley, a photographer who has captured the living conditions of the Redlegs of Barbados.

The Redlegs of Barbados have mostly married within their community. As a result, this caused a higher risk of birth defects, diseases and shorter life expectancy. Some integration with African descendants in Barbados has occurred, which has led to better health and education for some Redlegs. However, many still struggle with health problems. Lack of dental care and poor diet has also contributed towards Redlegs of Barbados having bad or even no teeth at all.

Help from Ireland

Micheal Martin, Irish Minister and Department of Foreign Affairs, has commented on the issue of assistants to the Redlegs of Barbados. His insight to the Irish Aboard Unit, “manages and coordinates the Emigrants Support Programme (ESP) in partnership with Ireland’s embassies and consulates abroad,” says they have been to Barbados to meet with the community. During their meetings, the Redlegs received encouragement to keep in contact with the government.

“Representatives of the community are welcome to submit an application for funding under the Emigrant Support Programme” said Minister Martin.

Joshua Botkin
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in IrelandIreland is mostly known for its lush greens, beautiful castles and vibrant culture. However, hunger in Ireland is a persistent problem that is not often discussed. While the Great Famine in the 1800s comes to mind for those thinking of Ireland’s hunger crisis, it is imperative to note that hunger still exists in the nation. Here are three things to know about hunger in Ireland.

3 Things to Know About Hunger in Ireland

  1.  In Ireland, 2.50% of the population lives in hunger. Though this is a small percentage, there hasn’t been a decrease for at least 20 years. While it is a good sign that hunger has not grown in the country, this number suggests that there still is a portion of the population struggling to access food. Unfortunately, living in a first-world country, issues such as hunger are not always prioritized.
  2. Poverty rates in Ireland are still high. In 2019, there were more than 680,000 people living in hunger. About 200,000 of that number were children. Poverty and hunger often go hand-in-hand; it can be extremely difficult for the impoverished to provide food for themselves and their families. Addressing hunger in Ireland, therefore, will also require poverty reduction efforts.
  3. COVID-19 in Ireland: COVID-19 cases in Ireland skyrocketed and peaked in mid-April, but are slowly trending upward today. Due to the nature of the virus, everyone can be affected, but even more so if a person is unable to find proper protection and care to try to stave off the virus. Due to this, health problems are a concern. This issue can be linked to the poverty levels, in turn leading to more hunger as those affected are trying to pay for medical bills and the necessities that come with proper medical care. It is still not clear if poverty and hunger in Ireland can be inextricably linked to the coronavirus. However, with trends around the world showing this is the case, it is simply food for thought.

Turn2us

One organization that has raised the bar in helping those in poverty throughout the country is Turn2us. This organization focuses specifically on the financially needy in Ireland and looks to help those people in multiple ways. Their current campaign is called #LivingWithout. While poverty and hunger often calls to mind a country in the depths of financial despair, helping those in need in a modern country may look very different. #LivingWithout was made specifically to help families or individuals in Ireland to obtain the necessary household appliances that are needed to function well each day.

Turn2us focuses specifically on welfare benefits, charitable grants and other support in order to uplift countless lives. Their focus on practical programs, like #LivingWithout, shows that poverty in a modern setting needs much different help than a developing country. The strategy differs, and Turn2us highlights this fact by targeting the UK and its citizens.

During a time of such need around the world, it is important to look at even the most developed places for signs of hunger and needed aid. In order to see a downfall in the 2.50% hunger rate in Ireland, it is necessary to bring awareness around the subject.

Natalie Belford
Photo: Flickr

5 Facts About Homelessness in IrelandDespite being among the wealthiest countries in the world, Ireland has struggled to address its homelessness crisis. Since 2008, when the country encountered a difficult economic crisis that struck the housing market with rising rent prices and ceased construction efforts to expand housing, Ireland’s homeless population has only grown into a greater national problem. Protests have erupted across the country and the government has stepped in to address the housing crisis with its “Rebuilding Ireland” program designed to create additional housing units to protect people from homelessness. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, homelessness numbers are reflecting a decline that hasn’t been seen in years.

5 Things to Know About Homelessness in Ireland

  1. Lingering Effects of Ireland’s “Lost Decade”: Similar to the 2008 financial crisis in the U.S., Ireland had its own housing bubble which burst in 2008, setting off a decade-long housing crisis. With Ireland’s housing market dropped in price by 54%, the housing construction was forced to a standstill and Irish banks were swarmed with debt. The effects of the crisis dubbed this period of recession the “lost decade”—a time when rising rent costs turned many people to the streets, and unemployment and poverty rose. St. Vincent de Paul, the largest charity in Ireland which provides aid and shelter to the homeless, was fielding double their usual number of calls during the first two years after the crisis. More than a decade later, Ireland is still struggling to recover from the impacts of the housing crisis.
  2. Housing is Not Affordable: A report released by the Irish Homebuilders Association (IHBA) stated the time required for a potential homeowner to save a downpayment could take more than 15 years in some cities in Ireland, including Dublin and Galway. In fact, Dublin has become one of the most expensive cities in the world to pay rent. High rents that consume large portions of an individual’s income tied with limited housing availability are two factors that contribute to the challenges of saving for future home-ownership. Rising rent prices show no signs of slowing down, either, with a 17% rent increase predicted for the upcoming years. Although tenants may manage to pull together their monthly rents, homelessness does not elude all renters: The majority of people who become homeless previously lived in privately rented areas.
  3. Homelessness Rates Shows Signs of Declining Amid COVID-19: Homelessness has been rising for several years since the crisis, growing into a national concern and reality for many people in Ireland. However, recently homelessness numbers dropped to their lowest levels since 2017. In May 2020, it was reported that 8,876 people were affected by homelessness, the first time this number has fallen below 9,000 people in the last three years. This decrease is likely from the emergency accommodations recently implemented to support the most vulnerable of Ireland’s population during the pandemic. Throughout Ireland, 600 places were made available that would allow people to self-isolate and maintain social distancing. However, once COVID-19 restrictions in Ireland are lifted, it is possible these numbers could rise to even higher rates as housing construction projects are delayed even further.
  4. Young Adult Homelessness Rates are High: Young adults are one of the groups most impacted by the housing crisis In Ireland. According to Focus Ireland, an organization that helps young people out of homelessness, the number of young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 afflicted by homelessness has increased by 31% since June 2015. But Focus Ireland also points out this figure is likely an underestimate. Official homelessness figures don’t account for the number of young people who seek out friends and family for a temporary place to stay rather than homeless shelters and services—“the forgotten homeless,” as Focus Ireland classifies this group. Young adults who grew up in the aftermath of the housing and financial crisis now face steep rents that hinder their abilities to save for buying a home, an emblem of adulthood.
  5. Ireland’s High Housing Demands: One of the root causes of homelessness in Ireland stems from the country’s inadequate supply of affordable housing. The percentage of households renting privately owned homes has doubled in demand over the past decade, limiting available housing and causing rent prices to climb. Construction efforts to build additional housing are not keeping up with demand either. In response, Ireland’s government installed the “Rebuilding Ireland” program in 2016, an initiative aimed at adding 25,000 housing units per year. According to the 2019 Housing Conference, the program met 74% of its 2018 annual target. However, Focus Ireland believes a solution to Ireland’s housing crisis resides in providing affordable public housing, which the country currently lacks. Public housing can give families and individuals burdened by high rents or eviction notices a humane and affordable option. Although housing, a personal right in Ireland, is slim, supporting the expansion of public housing could be the solution to actualizing this right and creating a stable future for all those who live in Ireland.

As reflected in Ireland’s recently reported figures, homelessness is on the decline. If the “Rebuilding Ireland” program fulfills its established mission of building additional housing, homelessness in Ireland could be combatted even further. Combined with Ireland’s successful response to sheltering the homeless during the COVID-19 pandemic, homelessness in Ireland is showing promising signs of being a resolved issue throughout the country.

Grace Mayer
Photo: Flickr 

First FortnightIn the 2018 Health at a Glance report, Ireland tied third for the highest rates of mental health disorders in Europe. These include higher rates of anxiety, depression and other mental disorders, with 18.5% of the population having at least one of these disorders. First Fortnight is challenging this mental health statistic through creative means.

Mental Health Stigma

First Fortnight is a mental health charity organization based in Dublin. Tying together creative expression and awareness, the organization takes on the greatest challenge towards mental health: stigma.

The stigmatization of mental health prevents individuals from seeking the necessary help needed. Several factors impact the perception of mental health, such as personal experiences, media representation and culture. Portrayals of people with mental health disorders as dangerous or weak, hinders progress to creating a healthier world. Should this perception be negative, individuals become isolated and less inclined to seek proper treatment.

One of the main objectives of First Fortnight is to create an open environment for discussion about mental health. The space for these discussions allows perceptions towards mental health to be changed. Stigma can be dismantled through education and awareness, letting individuals be more than their defined diagnosis.

First Fortnight’s Mental Health Events and Initiatives

First Fortnight hosts annual festivals celebrating various art forms, and each year, the festivals grow in size. In 2020, the charity was able to organize over 60 events across Ireland with the help of more than 140 volunteers. Adapting to COVID-19, the organization will host its first virtual festival in January 2021. First Fortnight is hoping the change will allow it to reach a wider, global audience.

A proud achievement of the initiative is its Centre For Creative Therapies. This project utilizes art therapy to help the homeless populations. Working with a therapist, the client is given guidance and the ability to express themselves through art. This method allows individuals a safe and healthy outlet to process their emotions and share their experiences. Alongside art, the Centre For Creative Therapies also advocates for music therapy.

The organization’s work goes beyond Ireland. First Fortnight was one of 22 organizations to take part in the Network of European Festivals for Mental Health Life Enhancement (NEFELE). The NEFELE Project, founded by the European Union, aims to establish art festivals for mental health across Europe. In addition to its annual charity festivals, First Fortnight hosted the European Mental Health Arts and Cultural Festival. Taking place in January 2019, the festival saw over 12,000 in attendance.

First Fortnight has also been supportive of the Mental European Network of Sports (MENS) since 2017. MENS focuses on uplifting mental health through the encouragement of physical activity.

The Future of Mental Health in Ireland

First Fortnight recognizes the importance of policies put into place. As part of its mission, the organization develops research needed to implement effective change. With the charity’s help, the Irish Government is acknowledging the value of mental health services. The nation’s 2021 budget includes €38 million toward mental health funding.

– Kelli Hughes
Photo: Flickr

Foreign Aid Policies In 2019, the Overseas Development Institute came out with the principled aid index to assess the degree to which donor countries are contributing to a prosperous world. According to the report, the principled foreign aid policies not only benefit the country that receives the aid, but it also serves the interests of the donor country. Below is a list of how this report’s top five countries are using their foreign aid:

5 Countries Foreign Aid Policies

  1. Luxembourg is a small country in Western Europe that has pledged 0.96% of its gross national income (GNI) to go towards development and aid. It is one of the few countries that meet a goal set by the U.N. to dedicate 0.7% of a country’s GNI to foreign aid. Luxembourg starts by targeting some of its partner countries, which include Burkina Faso, Nicaragua, Mali and Senegal. With remaining funds, Luxembourg helps provide humanitarian assistance in Kosovo, the Palestinian territories and Vietnam. The country also focuses on private enterprises through microfinance and inclusive finance to help promote productivity. In 2020, Luxembourg joined the International Aid Transparency Initiative which motivates the government to share data about foreign aid spending with the public. Accountability is an important factor in creating sustainable aid.
  1. The United Kingdom is another country that has met the U.N. goal of 0.7% of GNI for foreign aid. The U.K. set the goal back in 1974 but recently achieved it in 2013. Additionally, the government inscribed the goal into law in 2015 so that the country now has a legal duty to achieve it. Around 64% of the U.K.’s foreign aid goes to countries for bilateral aid. The main recipients of bilateral aid include Pakistan, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Syria and Afghanistan. The remaining 36% of the U.K.’s foreign aid goes to multilateral institutions like the E.U. and the U.N. Additionally, the U.K. has also provided humanitarian aid for Liberia and Sierra Leone during the Ebola outbreak. Also, the country offered assistance to Nepal and Indonesia — following natural disasters and Somalia during the hunger crisis.
  1. Sweden has continuously met the U.N. goal since 1976. The country even made its own goal to dedicate 1% of its GNI to foreign aid in 2008. In 2019, Sweden allotted 0.98% of its GNI for foreign aid. Along with Norway, Sweden is considered to be a “humanitarian superpower.” The Swedish development cooperation, also known as Sida, is Sweden’s leading agency for providing foreign assistance. Sweden has 33 partner countries that it helps by creating income opportunities and strengthening democracy. Sweden is dedicated to helping achieve the U.N., 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The country’s primary goals include human rights, democracy and the rule of law, gender equality, the environment and climate change, health equity and education and research.
  1. Norway has met the U.N. goal for providing foreign aid since 1976. In 2019, Norway apportioned 1.02% of its GNI for foreign aid and development. Norway’s foreign aid policies use an approach that follows the 2005 Paris principles. These principles value ownership, alignment, harmonization, managing for results and accountability. Norway provides foreign aid funding for civil society organizations and budget support. The country also uses a large part of its budget to help people inside its borders. For example, Norway has used part of its budget to provide for its refugee population, which included more than 50,000 refugees in 2019.
  1. Ireland currently does not meet the U.N. goal, but the country is hoping to double its impact by 2025. In 2017, 0.36% of Ireland’s GNI went toward its foreign aid budget. Ireland’s foreign aid focuses on developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The country hopes to combat the issues of displacement and conflict, which Ireland’s main concern — climate change, tends to exacerbate. Additionally, developing countries are more likely to feel the effects of climate change disproportionately as compared with developed countries.

Striding Forward

These five countries’ foreign aid policies are impressive examples of how developed nations can make valuable contributions to global well-being. Hopefully, more undeveloped countries continue to benefit from foreign aid policies of more developed nations. Likewise, it is important these developed countries continue their efforts to achieve the U.N. goals, for theirs and the world’s greater benefit.

Camryn Anthony
Photo: Pixabay

Global Food SecurityThe global population has been growing exponentially in the last few decades as compared to earlier times in human history, given that 42% of the population is under the age of 25. With a rapidly growing population, global food security is threatened and it is expected that without major agricultural enhancement, there will not be enough food for future generations. By 2050, crop production must grow by 60-100% from 2005 levels in order to avoid this fate.

Youth hold the future of the global food system in their hands. There are many young people working to combat the global food security crisis in a way that puts sights on the future, not the present. Through scientific innovations, advocacy and more, these young men and women not only give hope for a world with less hunger but also vehemently encourage others to join them. Some examples of their work follow. 

Kiranjit Kaur: Kisan Mazdoor Khudkushi Peedit Parivar Committee

Kiranjit Kaur of India, a 23-year-old political science postgraduate student from Punjab state, is a pioneer in the fight against farmer suicide. Losing her own father to suicide spurred her to focus on community engagement to address the statistics of over 16,000 farmer suicides in India each year. With 39% of the employed population working in agriculture, success is important for the health and well-being of farming families.

Punjab was an agricultural haven during the Green Revolution, but since the 1990s, with increased land productivity and the cost of agriculture, loans have become a norm and financial stress has increased. Kaur motivates the women in her community to participate in a social campaign that focuses on mental health, mutual support and activism. As for now, she spends most of her time working with the group but plans to do a Ph.D. on farmer suicide in the future.

Craig Piggott: Halter

A New Zealand native, Craig Piggott dedicates his talents to agricultural innovations in herding and tracking cows. His invention involves a GPS-enabled and solar-powered collar for cows, Halter, which enables farmers to herd the animals remotely; using sounds and vibrations to both direct the cows and alert the farmers of any issues. Piggott developed the app through three years of testing, and a few dairy farmers in Waikato are eager to implement the technology within their own herds. With more testing and exposure, he hopes to extend the program nationally to aid New Zealand’s agricultural field.

This innovative app will save time and resources by decreasing the farmer’s workload and using grazing grass more efficiently, thanks to the virtual fences. Piggott’s company was founded in 2016 when he was 22-years-old and has grown to a current team of more than 40 scientists, engineers and other professionals.

Sophie Healy-Thow: Scaling Up Nutrition

Sophie Healy-Thow, a 20-year-old Irish college student, is a prominent European name in the rural development advocacy and global food security spaces. She and her team’s natural bacteria project won the BT Young Scientist Exhibition in 2013, and she was also named one of Time magazine’s Most Influential Teens. Healy-Thow also speaks out about calling leaders to action, and hopes for a time when young people are listened to and engaged instead of just getting a pat on the head.

Today she speaks at the U.N. conventions and TED talks and is part of a team developing a Kenyan project called Agrikua, which focuses on encouraging women’s involvement in agriculture, providing education and other support. After university, she plans to work for a charitable organization that helps women, inspired by her current involvement in ActionAid U.K.

Jefferson Kang’acha: The Eden Horticultural Club

Food security is not a new issue in 19-year-old Jefferson Kang’acha’s life in Kenya, and he works to grow tomatoes in order to protect the staple ingredient of many Kenyan households. Due to declining yields, the price of tomatoes has spiked to high prices that most Kenyan families cannot afford. In response, Kang’acha developed the hydroponic production of tomatoes, which grows the plants with no soil and in a controlled climate.

By founding the Eden Horticultural Club, he is able to provide tomatoes to his community, including schools and hospitals in the area. In the first few months alone, he was able to distribute 2.5 tons of tomatoes to more than 100 households. He hopes to one day use this process to assist global food security throughout Africa and beyond.

The Future of Global Food Security

The future of the agriculture industry is hard to predict, but the U.N. encourages youth participation and innovation to solve the problem. Goal 2 of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals (2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development) seeks to “end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.” Vast problems require bold solutions, and these four young people are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to innovators doing their part to protect global food security.

Savannah Gardner
Photo: Pixabay

healthcare accessibility in ireland
Given the significance of healthcare systems to their beneficiaries, it can be easy to generalize them as either “bad” or “good.” However, while both remarkably successful and disastrous systems do exist, setups like the Irish system demonstrate that a single system’s success can vary greatly between “bad” and “good.” Here is some pertinent information about healthcare in Ireland.

Background

As with most nations in Western Europe, Ireland utilizes a public healthcare system. The quality of the aid options covered by the government is inversely related to a citizen’s income and situation. Still, every Irish citizen is entitled to public hospital care, birthing services and a chance to apply for limited prescription drug or medicine payment.

Supplemental support for the Irish public system comes in the form of private health insurance companies and increasing government spending. Private healthcare has exploded into a wide field of Irish companies providing extended care to over 30% of the population. Government healthcare budgets have also grown, with an annual expenditure of 21.1 billion euros as of 2017.

Despite these traits, problems with healthcare in Ireland, especially with accessibility, remain. In fact, while Ireland has gone through four systematic changes and over six different healthcare management departments in the past fifteen years, citizen access to medical care is still an urgent issue.

Structural Accessibility Problems

While Ireland has taken great pains to offer monetary support for its public and private medical professionals, the nation’s support of citizens in need of said professionals is poor. In theory, medical aid would be distributed equally by need across Ireland’s counties. Instead, regions like the nation’s South-East have difficulty accessing support for any medical field, lacking professionals from general practitioners to speech therapists.

Additionally, Ireland faces lingering challenges due to its restructured healthcare system from the 2008-2009 global economic crisis. Ireland’s public system remained in place during the crisis but at the cost of temporarily plummeting expenditure and creating lasting widespread changes. Some of the changes to the system were:

  • Specialized national directories were subsumed into an Integrated Services Directorate (ISD)
  • Management of individual regions was given to locally-based Integrated Service Areas (ISA)
  • The provision of healthcare became a task split between the national government and four regional departments

While Ireland’s division of hospitals and state worked during an economic crisis, over time, significant flaws have appeared. Barring emergencies, the healthcare system is simply too slow to change in accordance with the needs of Ireland’s citizens. As a result, regions with above-average health risks are left without necessary national aid. In nations with more independent local governments, this shortage might be resolved. In this case, it only leads to severe problems with healthcare accessibility in Ireland.

For example, the county of Wexford consistently provides medical care below Ireland’s national average despite a disabled population of over 20,000 citizens and theoretically widespread access to healthcare. As the amount of at-risk citizens has not quite reached emergency levels, the region simply is not prioritized despite a clear need for and a right to more healthcare access.

Private Insurance

A further limitation on healthcare accessibility in Ireland is the growth of its private healthcare system. This system was affirmed in the 1950s and initially led by the Voluntary Health Insurance Board to alleviate the concerns of private insurance owners. Today, the private system leads to conflicts of interest.

With most Irish private care still delivered in public hospitals, as opposed to private ones, a vicious cycle has formed. Due to Ireland’s restrictions on their access to public healthcare, owners of private insurance receive priority when admitted to hospitals. However, as public insurance users also rely on these hospitals, those dependent on public insurance can be forced into long waits for treatment or prescriptions. This, in turn, forces citizens in need of urgent or regular care to purchase private insurance. The more private insurance is purchased, the more other public users feel as though they need private insurance to ensure hospital access. Ultimately, this leads to even more private insurance and more pressure until certain economic groups are priced out of public hospitals, limiting already restricted access.

Potential Solutions

In terms of resolving the problems with healthcare accessibility in Ireland, several different options present themselves. The first, as demonstrated by the Irish Red Cross, is to fill the gaps in national service with volunteers. However, this solution is inherently limited in scope. The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), which has devoted a research series to optimizing Ireland’s healthcare process, is leading an alternative approach. This research series, while informative and educational, has not taken any form of direct action.

Instead, the most definitive actions taken thus far have been by the Irish government. Recently, it has established Regional Integrated Care Organisations (RICO) to serve as midpoints between ISDs and ISAs to ensure faster national response times to regional welfare changes.

While Ireland has made progress in ameliorating healthcare accessibility, there is much further to go. A country with Ireland’s system and budget can do more to aid its citizens. While its situation is improving, awareness of the issues around healthcare in Ireland remain vital in ensuring its continued success.

Chase McCall

Photo: Freepik

Poverty in Ireland
Ireland joined the EU in 1973, after which the country enjoyed a period of rapid economic growth between 1995 and 2007. In 2008, however, Ireland suffered a recession. The effect of this recession still echoes through the state of poverty in Ireland.

During their time of prosperity, Ireland’s GDP rose from 69.2 billion in 1995 to 275 billion in 2008. During this period, Ireland’s unemployment also fell from 11.7% to 6.7%. Experts suggest that this rapid economic growth was possible because many tech firms poured into Ireland during the 1990s. Ireland’s favorable tax rate, which was 20 to 50% lower than its neighboring countries, encouraged these tech firms. This constant investment by tech firms, international corporations and development in tourism further contributed to Ireland’s economic growth.

In 2008, the global financial crisis hit. Ireland’s unemployment rate spiked from 4.9% in 2007 to 6.7% in 2008. This employment rate peaked at 15.4% in 2012.

To remedy their economy, Ireland agreed to a 92 billion dollar loan package from the European Untion and the IMF in late 2010.  In March 2011, the Irish government further committed to meeting the deficit targets with Ireland’s EU-IMF bailout program. Through multiple measures, Ireland became the first country of the European Union to exit the bailout program in 2013.

Lasting Impact of the 2008 Financial Crisis

According to Social Justice Ireland’s 2019 report of poverty in Ireland, 15.7% of Ireland’s population, or 760,000 people, lived below the poverty line. Among this number, 202,000 are children and 111,000 people living in poverty are in employment. Poverty can still be an issue for those individuals who are employed since many of these jobs are low-paying. Some estimates suggest that approximately 23% of Ireland’s full-time workforce worked in these low-paying jobs in 2019.

This is especially concerning since income disparity in Ireland is quite large. Researchers found that the top 10% of households have 24% of total disposable income while the bottom 10% only have three percent. This further contributes to child poverty in Ireland.

Child poverty is also one of the most concerning aspects of poverty in Ireland. In their same 2019 report, SJI estimated that around 23.9% of impoverished people in Ireland are children. This leads to deprivation in material, cultural and social resources that can aid them to develop into a healthy adult. Child poverty has far-reaching consequences on child development, education and future job prospect of those affected.

Combating Poverty in Ireland

The Irish government is taking active measures to combat poverty. For example, a report from the Economic and Social Research Institute found that Ireland’s tax system took most measures to reduce household income inequality among its European peers. In the ESRI report, researchers stated that, through broad-based Universal Social Charge and the early level that the income tax kicks in, the level of inequality in take-home income in Ireland is getting closer to the EU average.

To combat child poverty, the Irish government also devised a national policy in 2014, in which the government aimed to reduce children in poverty by two-thirds by 2020 by supporting families in poverty. Furthermore, the Irish government’s Budget 2020 will increase the Living Alone Allowance and the Qualified Child Payment, which both aim to further assist those on social welfare. The Irish government estimates that the new budget could help 108,000 children to enroll in early childhood care and education programs.

 

Poverty in Ireland is a remnant of the economic turmoil that the Irish people suffered during 2008. However, as apparent in Ireland’s economic growth after 2013, Ireland has proved its resilience. While income inequality and child homelessness are still an issue, the Irish government is more than cognizant of these problems. Many in Ireland have hope for a better economic future.

–  YongJin Yi
Photo: Flickr

Addressing the Issues Surrounding Ireland’s Impoverished ChildrenEconomic hardship is an all too real and frequent issue across the world. It has been known to create harmful factors such as corrupt governments, homelessness, hunger, limited to non-existent access to healthcare and an overall lower standard of living. However, as negative as these factors can be for those affected by poverty in general, it is especially detrimental toward children. The plight of Ireland’s impoverished children serves as one such case in which rampant economic penury has served as a severe detriment to their overall quality of life.

Ireland and the 2008 Recession

Irish children are one of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged groups within the region. Granted, Ireland suffered and continues to be burdened from persistent economic difficulties since the 2008 recession. Since then, more than 689,000 Irish people are reported to be in the poverty range, according to the 2019 Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC). Additionally, of these people living in poverty, 202,000 are shown to be children.

The gradual process of economic recovery since the 2008 recession has shown to be beneficial to the more general population, rather than vulnerable groups such as children. In fact, one report from the 2011 annual census found that 9.3% of children were living in perpetual poverty, with an additional 22% listed as going to school hungry. Conditions have unfortunately worsened since this census.

Moreover, whereas infrastructure has been invested in other important aspects of economic stability, such as industrial and technological growth, the same cannot be said for all aspects of economic stability. Specifically, the areas of health, housing and education were cut substantially in the aftermath of the 2008 recession, and there have not been suitable efforts to restore them to their previous levels.

These government cutbacks, unfortunately, do not even refer to some of the most disadvantaged subsections of children. For instance, the Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights Nils Muiznieks reports that the Travelers experienced disproportionate drawbacks in housing (up to 85%) and in education (up to 86%). These drawbacks are especially harmful to the children in this group.

These unfortunate circumstances may not be in place forever. New initiatives and actions have been taken to mitigate and heal the issues affecting Ireland’s impoverished children.

No Child 2020: Addressing Child Poverty in Ireland

One of the more prominent examples of this includes the initiative, No Child 2020. This initiative’s goal was to bring public attention and government action to child poverty in Ireland. Headed by The Irish Times, the following five issues were addressed through the initiative: child hunger, homelessness, accessible healthcare, education and access to culture and sport.

No Child 2020 made substantial success in terms of garnering attention toward the issues of child poverty in Ireland. A key example of this can be seen in the passing of the journal Social Justice Ireland, which published its very own list of issues that require government involvement to rectify the issues of child poverty. It should be further noted that of the 12 issues the journal listed, the need to “provide adequate payments for children to end child poverty” was highlighted.

As a result of these endeavors, the Irish government added an extra one million euros toward creating a pilot system providing free books to more than 50 primary schools. There has also been the provision of free dental care for Irish children below 6 years of old and free general practitioner coverage for Irish children below 8 years of age.

Looking Ahead

There is still far more to be accomplished to assist Ireland’s impoverished children. The Irish government still has not bestowed more medical coverage to low-income families altogether, nor The Irish Times’ request 20 million pounds per year for free school books to all of Ireland’s primary schools. Moreover, no official government action has been taken to better address the aforementioned dilemmas concerning child hunger, homelessness and sporting/cultural involvement.

If progress is to be truly advanced to address these issues, more financial investment and government action are required. According to Muiznieks’s 2016 report, significant “budgetary and economic redress” is critical to aid vulnerable groups such as Ireland’s impoverished children.

Still, the presence of the No Child 2020 and the Social Justice Ireland have shown development in the country. These initiatives have already contributed economically, educationally and politically toward resolving the obstacles of Ireland’s impoverished children. Who knows how many more initiatives or reformative actions these imperatives could inspire? Progress takes time but now that the issues of Ireland’s impoverished children are being acknowledged, there is hope that the reality of such progress continues.

– Jacob Hurwitz
Photo: Flickr

Child Labor
Child labor is defined as the employment of children who are under the legal working age. Currently, there are about 265 million children engaged in child labor around the world. While this is clearly not ideal, there has been a reduction in child labor across the globe, from 23 percent of children working in 2000 to close to 17 percent in 2012. Many countries whose laws once allowed for child labor now protect their children from such harsh conditions instead.

Where Countries Are Based on Levels of Income

There are four basic income levels. Level 1 is extreme poverty; the family can barely afford to eat and must get water from wells. Level 2 is lower-middle income; the family can afford decent food and shoes. Level 3 is upper-middle income; the family can afford running water and basic appliances. Level 4 is high income; the family can afford a nice house and cars.

The higher a family’s income, the less likely they are to have their children work from a young age. Likewise, the higher a country’s income, the less likely they are to approve of child labor. We can see the likelihood of child labor by looking at the income level of different countries.

Level 4: Ireland

In 18th and 19th century Ireland, children were routinely put to work because they could be paid less than what adult workers were paid, they could operate certain machines that adults could not and it was believed that they would grow up to be harder workers. In many cases, children aged 3 to 7 were outright kidnapped by organized trade rings and forced to do whatever work their masters wanted them to.

The Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act of 1996 changed all of that. Under this law, Irish employers cannot make children younger than 16 work full time. Additionally, employers cannot hire anyone under age 14 at all. Children aged 14 to 15 can only do light work during school holiday periods, work in educational programs that are not harmful to their health or cultural enrichment jobs. On top of that, employees aged 18 or younger must receive a minimum of €6.69 per hour, which is 70 percent of the Irish adult minimum wage.

Level 3: Croatia

In Croatia, the legal minimum age for work is 15. From the ages of 15 to 18 years old, children can only work with written permission from their parents, and inspections must show that the labor does not interfere with the child’s health, morality or education. In addition, anyone caught dealing in child prostitution in any way will face a three to 10-month prison sentence.

These laws have not stopped all child labor in Croatia. Roma children are often forced to beg in the streets, and Croatia experiences the active trafficking of young girls for prostitution. That said, the 2006-2012 National Program for the Protection of the Best Interests of Children made great strides in the reduction in child labor, particularly prostitution.

Level 2: Sudan

Of Sudan’s 37.96 million children, 45,600 are currently subject to child labor. Not only are there no laws against child labor, but the government also encourages it by kidnapping children in rural areas during military raids. These children start working at age 5, so they miss out on their educations, which otherwise would be compulsory.

However, Sudan has made strides in decreasing the child labor rate, including signing a Partnership Protocol Agreement with the European Union in 2008 and inspecting working environments to keep children from working in toxic conditions. Unfortunately, little has been done to help rural areas. Families have to migrate to urban areas or to other countries to escape labor and let their children get an education. Although, escape from Sudan is illegal and far from easy, it is still possible.

Level 1: Niger

The child labor rate in Niger is 42.8 percent. The jobs that young children are made to perform include agriculture, mining, caste-based servitude and forced begging. The government has set up a number of programs to reduce child labor, including Centers for Education, Legal, and Preventative Service; The Project to Reduce Child Labor in Agriculture; and The World Bank Country Program. However, these programs have made only moderate advances in stopping child labor.

Child labor continues to be a problem in the world today. Poor and corrupt countries are quick to put children to work because the children do not require high wages. However, laws and legislation all over the world have resulted in a global reduction in child labor. It has not stopped child labor altogether, but a little progress is better than none at all. The fight to end child labor continues.

Cassie Parvaz
Photo: Flickr