Sinn Féin spokesperson on Social Protection and Rural Development, Claire Kerrane TD, has today raised concerns about levels of rural poverty in the state.
The results of a research study, spearheaded by Clare Public Partnership Network (PPN), involved testimonies which were gathered over the course of nine months from the groups that represent people experiencing poverty and social exclusion in Clare.
The report illustrated concerning findings around poverty levels in rural areas, including the disconnect between government policy decisions and people’s lived experiences.
Teachta Kerrane said:
“The results of this research by Clare PPN provide significant insight into the reality of poverty levels in rural communities.
“The report shows that families and workers in rural areas face significant threat of poverty and deprivation and this is not unique to County Clare.
“The report found that a person’s location in the state matters, with basic services, infrastructure and opportunities unavailable in some rural areas.
“There are stark findings regarding a lack of availability of housing supports and inequality in health services than in other parts of the state.
“As well as this, there has been a diminishing of services and supports available to marginalised groups.
“A finding that stuck out to me was the disparity between government policy to tackle and prevent poverty and the experiences of those living in rural areas.
“The report states that those experiencing socio-economic exclusion in County Clare are being poorly served by policy-makers, which I have no doubt will be a similar experience across other rural communities.
“We know that policy decisions made by the Government are not necessarily made with rural communities in mind. This is exactly why I have repeatedly called for a rural-proofing mechanism to be implemented and have introduced legislation on this matter.
“In addition, the report points to key failures at national and local level in measuring poverty in rural areas, which is something I have raised in my work on tackling poverty.
“As the report states, ‘what you can’t measure you can’t address’. It is crucial that rural poverty levels are measured, monitored and that appropriate strategies are developed to tackle deprivation and exclusion in these communities.
“We also need to see movement on the introduction of rural-proofing which has been long promised by government.”