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

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

Top Ten Facts about Poverty in Ireland
The poverty rate in Ireland has been increasing since the recession in 2008. Along with poor health and economic inequalities, unemployment has been a huge factor contributing to poverty in Ireland

Top 10 Facts About Poverty in Ireland

  1. Almost 800,000 people in Ireland live in poverty despite the improved economy: According to the Irish Times, although the economy is doing well, the people are not. Children make up a quarter of a million of the 790,000 people living in poverty in Ireland today.
  2. The “working poor” make up 105,000 of those in poverty: According to Social Justice Ireland, 18 percent of the adults in Ireland are working, but their salaries aren’t enough to afford the basic necessities for themselves or their families.
  3. Poverty is worse in rural areas: In Ireland, in the Border, Midlands and West regions there is a much higher number of those living in poverty. In fact, the Eastern and Southern regions of Ireland fewer than 50 percent of the people per capita live in poverty when compared with their rural counterparts. 
  4. The rent in Ireland has increased: The rent in Ireland is six times the average rate of other European countries. Poor families aren’t able to afford the basic necessities let alone a house with inflated rent despite the Housing Assistance Payments provided by the government. New plans are being considered to work to solve the issue.
  5. The gender gap is a large cause of women in poverty: Women often have to work in lower paying, sometimes temporary jobs. During the recession men in working families saw a 9 percent pay decrease, but women saw 14 percent. When coupled with the fact that women were already making less money than men, this cut only made the situation worse. 
  6. Single parents are more at risk: Single parents, of whom 84 percent are women, face some of the highest childcare costs in Europe, making it extremely difficult to work for a livable wage and take care of the family. The organization One Family is working to help alleviate poverty for single-parent families in Ireland. They hope to reduce poverty rates and create legislation to help support all families as well as bring recognition to the complications that single-parent families must face.
  7. Ireland’s Deprivation Gap has increased over time: Ireland has a significant and still increasing gap in deprivation between vulnerable adults (single parents and those with disabilities) and other adults in society. Between 2004-2015, Ireland’s showed the largest increase in its deprivation gap out of the 11 EU countries.
  8. The United Nations is working to help with the problem: The director of Social Justice Ireland was invited by the U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs to be part of a meeting on “Strategies for Eradicating Poverty to Achieve Sustainable Development for All.” This was held at The United Nations in New York in May 2017. This group of experts was brought together to make policy recommendations to help reduce poverty.
  9. Social justice Ireland is helping with Five Outcomes to reduce poverty: Social Justice Ireland is an organization working to create a stronger, sustainable future in Ireland. The group wants to help face the issues by setting out goals for the government to achieve. Its view for a better future involves “a vibrant economy, decent services and infrastructure, just taxation, good governance and sustainability.” In April 2018, the government launched The Sustainable Development Goals National Implementation Plan 2018-2020. This plan highlights 19 high-level actions that will promote awareness, participation, support and policy alignment to achieve sustainable goals for Ireland’s future.
  10. Despite the poverty, the economy is doing well: The Irish economy has been recovering since the recession of 2008 and has had time to grow. Since 2017, 55,000 jobs were created. Also, in 2018, Ireland saw a 4 percent growth in the economy. Although many are still in poverty, the creation of new jobs can help many struggling. One way the government is working to provide jobs is through energy reform. By alleviating energy poverty, the government would not only provide energy and fuel to poverty-stricken areas but also could create an estimated 3,200 jobs per year over the 15-year plan.

The poverty rates in Ireland have increased despite the some of the progress in the economy. The main reasons seen in the top 10 facts about poverty in Ireland can be solved by new government policies. Organizations like Social Justice Ireland are doing their best to help bring awareness of these policies to the government and the U.N. to build a better future for Ireland.

Negin Nia
Photo: Pixabay

Irish Foreign Aid
Irish foreign aid is distributed by Irish Aid, a program within the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The main focus of Irish Aid is to reduce hunger and improve resilience. This means that Irish Aid focuses on developing economic growth, improving governance and holding governments accountable for human rights. Much of their work and funding is focused in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Ireland and the UN

During the United Nations negotiations to implement the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that were to feature in the United Nations program “Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” Ireland worked alongside Kenya to facilitate intergovernmental negotiations in 2014 and by mid-2015 the negotiations were complete.

This is an important milestone for Irish foreign aid. Ireland has yet to meet the United Nation’s standard of .7 percent of a nation’s gross national income (GNI) for foreign aid; the nation currently only spends .33 percent. Although Irish foreign aid spending is not at expected United Nation levels, it is still effective.

Impact of Irish Aid

Like many other nations and their foreign aid agencies, Irish Aid uses a grant system to make use of its allocated money. In 2012, Irish Aid granted 100 million euros to the organization Concern Worldwide. Irish Aid and Concern Worldwide have been partners ever since.

A similar partnership was struck again in 2017, and the grant money would be used to fund programs all across Africa in 17 different countries. Irish Aid and Concern Worldwide are working together on the Realigning Agriculture to Improve Nutrition (RAIN) project, amongst others.

Concern Worldwide

According to Concern Worldwide, nearly 45 percent of children in Zambia are undernourished, which can lead to health difficulties later in life and hinder a child’s performance in school.

Concern Worldwide works to combat this deficiency by bringing together both the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Agriculture. This cooperation will help the government learn how to effectively manage this issue. Concern Worldwide also provides advanced training for farmers, including improved techniques to increase crop yield and preserve the environment.

Educational Efforts

Education is another important area for Irish foreign aid. On the Irish Aid website, stories can be found about individuals, individual programs and their respective successes. In the realm of education, one young Ugandan man is an exceptional success story. Munyes Michael holds a bachelor’s degree in Business studies with education in a country where nearly 4 out of 5 adults cannot read or write.

Although his parents worked incredibly hard, they were unable to afford to send him to secondary school, let alone college. However, Munyes was able to go to college due to Irish Aid; after graduating, he now works as a community facilitator in Uganda. Munyes is a great example of how investment in people can turn out to be one of the best investments a nation, organization or person can make. Money was spent on one person, and that person can go on to help hundreds of people.

One Step At a Time

Although Irish Aid is changing peoples’ lives all over the world, it can still do better. Better funding and direction from their government can go a long way.

Although Ireland’s government does not yet have a plan to reach the target of .07 percent, credit should still be given to the nation. Ireland was hit hard by the 2008 financial crisis but continued to do its part to help around the world. Hopefully, as the Irish economy continues to grow, its government will begin to form a coherent strategy for improving its foreign aid efforts.

As with any important issue, the best change will happen when a government is called higher by its people and its media (specifically The Irish Times). With concentrated efforts reflective of populations near and abroad, Ireland can only do good.

– Nick DeMarco
Photo: Flickr

The History of Poverty in IrelandIreland’s political and religious history has had a great effect on the country’s history of poverty, which has continued throughout many centuries. There are still neglected political policies that cause great poverty today.

Early History of Poverty in Ireland

The history of poverty in Ireland began with the invasion by Great Britain in 1649. Oliver Cromwell governed Great Britain at that time, and he despised Roman Catholicism. He felt that the predominantly Catholic Irish people could not be trusted and sought to bring them to order. Cromwell executed those that would not comply and exported children to sugar plantations in the West Indies, hoping to decrease the population of the Irish. This population loss allowed Great Britain to gain control over Ireland.

In the 18th century, Ireland’s farmland became the property of English landlords. The landlords were not present to work the farms and only collected rent. The landlords would force multiple families to live on one piece of property to charge more rent. This overcrowding resulted in hunger, as the crop yields could not sustain multiple families and still provide income for rent. Those who could not pay were evicted and had nowhere to go.

Potato Famine a Major Cause of Poverty

The main crop produced on the farmlands was a staple of the Irish diet, the potato. However, potatoes are susceptible to disease, even though the crop needs little maintenance. This was the cause of the Great Potato Famine that began in 1845. The famine was caused by the water mold disease known as late blight, which resulted in crop failure three years in a row. This drove families further into poverty. There were many families that were unable to pay rent or feed their children. The Great Potato Famine was one of the most significant events in the history of poverty in Ireland. The famine caused more than one million deaths and reduced the population by nearly half.

Even though Great Britain impacted the history of poverty in Ireland by taking control of the farmland when the Great Famine was devastating Irish families, the government refused to intervene and provide help to Irish families. Charities and soup kitchens had limited resources to help those suffering from starvation. Those who did not perish from starvation or disease were forced to immigrate to other countries.

Poverty Issues Still Present Today

This history of poverty in Ireland has seemed to carry over to the present day. In 2010, it was estimated that 6 percent of the population is living below the poverty line and approximately 15 percent of people are at risk of falling below the poverty line. The poverty line is measured by the average income and anyone that makes less than 60 percent of the average income is considered to be living in poverty.

Advocacy group Social Justice Ireland (SJI) has studied the history of poverty in Ireland and seeks to correct the ongoing issue. SJI reports that more than 100,000 people with employment are still living below the poverty line. In addition, SJI has stated that to avoid poverty, a single adult must make an estimated €250 a week and a family of four must bring home approximately €579 a week to be over the poverty line. The difficulties that the working poor face in reaching these income levels are attributed to low pay that is not fairly regulated, either by employers or the government.

Another factor that causes the population to be employed and still below the poverty line is an unfair tax system that has always been a part of the history of poverty in Ireland. SJI strongly urges the government to take charge and break this ongoing cycle of poverty for the Irish people.

– Kristen Hibbett
Photo: Flickr

Success of The Straight Talk Foundation and Irish Aid Bursary Program in UgandaDespite being a much smaller country than the United States, Ireland has contributed much of its resources to help end global poverty through funding for a variety of foreign aid, humanitarian and development assistance projects.

Irish Aid

Irish Aid is the country’s official program that fights against poverty and hunger around the world, and which makes up a key part of Ireland’s foreign policy. According to Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the program helps poorer countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, pursue development while also providing humanitarian assistance.

In 2015, €647.51 million was spent on Irish Aid, which comprised 0.36 percent of Ireland’s gross national product. Irish Aid uses this money for programs related to agriculture, nutrition development, health, HIV education and emergency assistance in times of crisis.

The Straight Talk Foundation

One country that Irish Aid has worked closely with is Uganda, and one of its partners is the Straight Talk Foundation, which began in 1993 as a newspaper funded by UNICEF. Initially, it targeted Ugandans between the ages of 10 and 24 and focused on reproductive health and HIV education. As it continued to develop, the foundation eventually expanded the topics it covered and started to work with adults in the community rather than just the youth, because of the important role adults, teachers and parents have in the lives of children.

Today, the Straight Talk Foundation works with both adults and youth and provides knowledge and support on topics such as HIV, general life skills, the environment, education, livelihoods and disability needs. The foundation’s mission is to provide reproductive health education to youth, as well as support their general well-being and development, through communication strategies based on evidence, advocacy and various services aimed at a young audience.

Irish Aid Bursary Program in Uganda

In 2016, the Irish government updated and relaunched the Irish Aid Bursary Program in Uganda as part of its new strategy for foreign aid to the country. The program has been supported by Ireland for 13 years and was designed to help Ugandan youth located primarily in the Karamoja region of Uganda pursue post-primary level education.

A bursary program is similar to a scholarship in that it is money given by an institution or organization to people specifically so they can attend a school.

Also in 2016, the Straight Talk Foundation took control of the bursary program in Uganda. The program provides 200 scholarships for disadvantaged students in the Karamoja region of the country who seek further education after primary school.

The Irish Embassy to Uganda’s website states that since 2005, 1,750 students have benefited from the bursary program, over half of which are young girls. The program covers the cost of tuition, necessary school supplies, transportation to and from school and HIV education.

Speaking to students at the event dedicated to the relaunch of the bursary program in Uganda, Ireland’s ambassador to the country stated that, “’It is our intention that this Irish government-funded bursary scheme will continue to provide educational opportunities to you and many in your communities, empowering you to achieve your dreams.”

As Ireland continues to fund its bursary program in Uganda and provide other forms of foreign assistance, more young Ugandans will gain access to education, and as a result, the opportunity for better livelihoods and futures.

– Jennifer Jones

Photo: Flickr

poverty in Ireland
In Ireland, the number of people living in poverty is steadily increasing. Since the beginning of the recession in 2008, the number has risen due to situational factors, such as unemployment and poor health, and exacerbated structural economic inequalities that perpetuate a cycle of poverty in Ireland.

Top 10 Facts about Poverty in Ireland

  • There are 790,000 people living in poverty: According to the Irish National Anti-Poverty Strategy, people living in poverty in Ireland are unable to maintain a standard of living acceptable by Irish society due to their lack of resources.
  • Only 18 percent of adults in poverty hold jobs: Despite working, these people do not earn salaries that allow them to cover basic costs of living for themselves and their families. They are called ‘the working poor’ by Social Justice Ireland.
  • There is a large income gap in Ireland: Social Justice Ireland found that the bottom 10 percent of Irish households only received 3 percent of the country’s total disposable income, while the top 10 percent of households received 24 percent of the income.
  • There are regional differences in poverty: Poverty in the more developed southern and eastern regions of Ireland is 50 percent less per capita than in the rural border, midlands and west regions of the country.
  • Disadvantaged populations are more likely to be in poverty: Sick or disabled people, and children younger than 18, are more likely to be at risk of poverty or in consistent poverty than healthy adults.
  • Single parent households are three times as likely to be in poverty: Compared to two-parent households, families with only a single parent are three times as likely to be in consistent poverty and twice as likely to be at risk of poverty.
  • Rent prices are increasing: Rent prices in Ireland are rising at six times the rate of European rates. When housing prices rise, the prices of other goods rise as well, causing poor families to stretch their resources to cover basic life necessities.
  • Moree than 8,500 people were homeless in Ireland in December 2017: This number includes more than 3,000 children and represents a 17 percent increase in the number of homeless families since December 2016.
  • Despite the poverty, economic growth is occurring: The Irish economy has moved past its recovery phase following the recession and into a time of growth. In 2017, 55,000 jobs were created, and in 2018, 4 percent growth of the economy is projected.
  • Specific policies are necessary to reduce poverty: To combat poverty in Ireland, specific government policies to address the areas of structural inequality are necessary. For example, creating a minimum living wage so all workers can afford a basic standard of life.

Even though there are still many steps needed to overcome poverty in Ireland, the Irish people are highly resilient. The 2017 World Happiness Report found that Ireland is the 15th happiest country in the world. Additionally, the report found only a small loss in happiness among the Irish people since the 2008 recession, and a high number of people reported they have someone to count on — strengths necessary to survive hardship.

– Hayley Herzog

Photo: Flickr

Water Quality in Ireland

Ireland is a developed country in Europe that has many luxuries such as electricity and gas. When it comes to basic necessities, Ireland is on par with the rest of Europe. Despite its status as a developed country, there has been an unwelcome decline in water quality in Ireland.

Ireland originally aimed for a 13 percent improvement in water quality within a six-year period, but it failed to meet its goal. Unfortunately, water quality in Ireland, even from their most pristine sources, has declined. This includes Ireland’s rivers, lakes, canals, ground waters and coastal waters.

These water sources were originally much cleaner and had a higher water quality, but the Environmental Protection Agency in Ireland has found that these water sources have deteriorated.

There are several different factors that can potentially affect the change in water quality. Some of these factors are soil or rock types, land use practices and pollution. Even heavy rainfall can influence whether or not the water quality will deteriorate or not.

These factors can change different parameters within the water that will affect the quality of water. Some of the parameters, such as bacteria and protozoa, chemicals, and metals, are tested in water. If any of these parameters are in excess, it can decrease the water quality and potentially make it dangerous to drink.

An aging infrastructure also contributed to the decrease in water quality in Ireland. If the pipes have not been changed out since installment or haven’t been maintained every few years, the pipes can begin to rust.

Rust contains iron oxide which can be potentially dangerous if consumed in excess.  Rust from the pipes can peel off into the water and be consumed via drinking water or by cooking with the water.

Although poor infrastructure can end up decreasing the water quality in Ireland, it is possible to fix it. The Irish government must commit to replacing the pipes that have not been maintained throughout its cities. Once the government does that, there will be a significant increase in the water quality and citizens would not have to worry whether or not the water is safe to drink.

Despite the current deterioration of Ireland’s water sources, in past, there have been improvements to water sources that had problems. Water sources that were considered “seriously polluted” have since been upgraded in status. Unfortunately, by neglecting the quality of their pristine water sources, the overall improvements to water quality appear stagnant.

Once Ireland begins changing their infrastructure, as well as cleaning and maintaining all of their water sources, they will be able to reach their 13 percent water quality improvement goal and make all of their water sources usable and pristine. In addition, the participation of citizens in Ireland is necessary to ensure sustainable water services in the future.

Daniel Borjas

Photo: Pixabay

Kurdish

Western Ireland does not have much in common with the Kurdish regions of Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria. It lacks the mountainous sanctuary that harbored the traditional nomadic lifestyle of the Kurds, as well as the constant ethnic battles. What Carrick-on-Shannon, a small town in the west of Ireland, does have is Kurd-owned businesses, Kurdish athletes and Kurdish New Year celebrations.

With a population estimated to be around 30 million people, the Kurdish ethnic group is one of the largest stateless nations in the world. Years of political turmoil in their traditional homeland of Kurdistan has forced the Kurdish population to become divided along the borders of Iran, Turkey, Iraq and Syria after centuries of persecution. Currently, 1.2 million Kurds live outside of Kurdistan.

The group of Kurdish families, who were first resettled in Carrick-on-Shannon by the United Nations, fled from years of political persecution in Iran and Iraq. After escaping from the violence against their ethnic group in Iran in 1979, many Kurds crossed into their relatively safe neighbor Iraq. The Iraq War in 2003 then forced Kurds to live in refugee camps toward the Iraq-Jordan border. In 2005 and 2006, around 100 Kurdish refugees in Ireland were resettled to Carrick-on-Shannon.

The Irish government, through services that now comprise the Irish Refugee Protection Programme, helped these Kurdish refugees in Ireland build a home in Carrick-on-Shannon. Adults enrolled in language courses to learn English while receiving social welfare to support their families, and children attended local schools.

However, government assistance wasn’t the only welcoming committee for the Kurds. Volunteers from the small Irish town brought food and clothes and built relationships with the mostly Muslim group of Kurds who resettled in their town. Nuns helped them practice English and tutored them in school subjects to help alleviate the difficulties of the language barrier. Though it was not easy, the small community came to foster a mutual respect between its old residents and the new.

After over a decade, the Kurds of Carrick-on-Shannon have become an integrated part of the town. The young refugees, like Halala Ahmadi, who was born in a refugee camp in Iraq and arrived in Ireland as a 15-year-old, have received opportunities for education, work and freedom of which their parents could only dream.

This success story of resettlement offers hope during times when the fate of refugees in Europe remains uncertain. With the support of both the Irish government and volunteers, friends and neighbors in Carrick-on-Shannon, these Kurdish refugees in Ireland have been able to claim a new home after years of displacement.

Richa Bijlani

Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases in Ireland Non-Communicable
With a population of 4.773 million, Ireland is an island country located west of Great Britain. Like in many other developed countries, noncommunicable diseases top the list of leading causes of death and disability. Discussed below are the common diseases in Ireland and their implications.

 

4 Most Common Diseases in Ireland

 

Cardiovascular and Respiratory Diseases
Ischemic heart disease is the leading cause of death in the country, and, in 2012, it was associated with eight percent of all fatalities. Heart attacks, strokes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) together make up another 16 percent of all fatalities. Eighty percent of these deaths, however, are preventable with increased awareness and prevention efforts. The Irish Heart Foundation recommends that citizens stop smoking, improve eating habits, including consuming more fruits and vegetables, increase exercise to at least 30 minutes five times per week and attend regular physical check-ups for blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

Cancer
Thirty percent of all deaths in Ireland are associated with cancer, the second most common killer in the country. There are over 9,000 deaths per year in Ireland that stem from cancer. The most common cancers are lung, breast, colon, prostate and skin. Lung cancer alone is the third leading cause of death, and, in 2012, was responsible for the deaths of 1,801 people, six percent of all fatalities. Breast cancer and colon cancer combined cause another four percent of total fatalities. The Irish Cancer Society wants people to be aware that four out of ten cancers can be prevented through better lifestyle choices such as not smoking, eating healthier, monitoring weight, watching alcohol intake and exercising.

Mental Health Disorders
Self-harm is another leading cause of death in the country. Depression, which is often connected to suicide, is a common mental health disorder in Ireland. It is estimated that at least one in five people will suffer from depression in their lifetime. Ireland is fourth in the world for suicide rates of young men ages 18 to 24, which may, in part, be due to the recent recession. Awareness and response are key to fighting depression and suicide rates in the country. There are many depression and mental health organizations in Ireland such as The Samaritans and Aware.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease
Every year, about 4,000 new cases of dementia are identified in Ireland. There are about 47,744 people in Ireland living with dementia, 30,359 of which are women and 17,385 of which are men. This number is expected to drastically increase over the next few decades due to population aging. A big problem is the lack of awareness and knowledge about the diseases as well as the stigma surrounding them. For example, people often believe that memory loss is a natural part of aging, although this may not be true. Better awareness and recognition of these diseases in Ireland can increase the support available for patients. To help ensure proper representation, in 2013, the Alzheimer’s Society of Ireland established the Irish Dementia Working Group to guarantee involvement with dementia patients and their families and to influence necessary public policy.

Because the majority of common diseases in Ireland are noncommunicable, awareness and education are key factors to help to best represent current patients and to help prevent future diagnosis. Making better and healthier lifestyle choices are especially important to help prevent and fight these diseases.

Francesca Montalto

Photo: Flickr