Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has said the explosion in food banks and similar initiatives across Ireland is a searing indictment of the government’s complete lack of interest in the cost of living crisis.
The Ireland South MEP made the comments as she visited the Feed Cork group in the city.
“Firstly I want to commend the people behind the Feed Cork movement,” she said.
“They are an inspirational group of people; generous, civic minded and hard working. They are motivated purely by a desire to help others and the job they are doing is one that has become sadly necessary.
“Having met them I cannot say enough good things about them but the fact that this group needs to exist at all is a searing indictment of the complete lack of interest of this government and previous governments in the cost of living crisis.
“When children are regularly going to school or to bed hungry I don’t think it’s any exaggeration to say that the state has failed. In Ireland, one in five children live in food poverty.
“This does not happen overnight and it does not happen accidentally. This was allowed to happen by this government and is a legacy of the actions of previous governments.
“They have failed to control the spiraling costs of rent, energy, insurance, transport, education and other essentials. Simultaneously they have not ensured that wages keep up with those costs and they have allowed dubious working contracts and pay practices to go unchecked.
“The consequence of this is that we now have 750,000 people in Ireland living in poverty with more than 100,000 of them in work.
“We have families who must choose between rent or food, working people who go hungry because of extortionate insurance premiums, older people who balance the needs of heating or eating.
“In the western world, in one of the richest nations in Europe, where we are never done hearing about the great mythical recovery, how is this anything other than a complete failure of government?
“Feed Cork has been operational since May last year. Since then they have expanded the programme to include a back-to-school pack for struggling parents in DEIS schools and the food programme has been in such huge demand that it has since been rolled out to other towns and counties including Clare, Tramore, Limerick and Wexford.
“If we don’t see radical action, or a change in Government soon, then I fear that rollout will continue right across the country.”