9 Jan 2008

GOVERNMENT’S child poverty targets must be met, the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, Patricia Lewsley, said today.

Commenting in the wake of the publication of an interim report by the Committee of the Office of First Minister, deputy First Minister, Ms Lewsley said the Northern Ireland Executive has the opportunity to end the misery that too many families face.

“That 40,000 children and young people are living in severe poverty is simply a disgrace,” said the Commissioner. “The Government has targets to end child poverty by 2020. These targets must be met.

“As the Executive considers its budget and Programme for Government it must direct all Government Departments to tackle child poverty. Strong political commitment and leadership is needed end the despair that drags down aspiration and creates real risks to children’s lives.”

Ms Lewsley said the bare statistics could not convey the agony that poverty creates.

“To meet families who struggle from week-to-week with heating bills, who struggle to clothe their children, who wonder whether there will be enough food by the end of the week is to realise that poverty in Northern Ireland is not a myth.

“It is a shame on society that tens of thousands of children face this misery and only leadership and concerted action by the Executive can tackle this.”

Ms Lewsley has given written evidence to the Committee of the Office of First Minister, deputy First Minister’s Child Poverty Inquiry and will give oral evidence later this year.

Issued by:
Jonathan Traynor, Media & Public Affairs Officer
Tel: 02890 316397
Fax: 02890 314545
Mob/out of hours: 07917 543 953
Email: jonathan@niccy.org