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2010: European year for combating

poverty and social exclusion. With good timing, the EU is offering a 12-month opportunity to highlight issues on the ground because 2010 is to be the ‘European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion’. The background to the EU’s themed year is pertinent. Governments across the EU swore in Lisbon in 2000 to “make a decisive impact on the eradication of poverty” by 2010. In Ireland, we succeeded in becoming an intercultural society, with better equality laws, a minimum wage, improved social welfare and a better resourced community sector. Now in deepening recession, civil society organisations locally and nationally are battling to halt the unraveling of social gains we made over the 10 years. Across Europe as a whole, 17% of EU citizens have such limited resources that they cannot afford the basics. To promote the year and highlight Ireland’s anti-poverty work and the causes of poverty, the EU is making co-funding of €177,000 available to Ireland and the Government has budgeted to spend €660,000 on a programme of events.

Since some Government policies are viewed as having led to increased poverty, it should make for an interesting year.

The 2010 European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion is to be launched in Madrid on 21 January.

The EU has instructed Governments that during 2010 they must work with civil society organisations to highlight that: • All people have a right to live in dignity and take part in society • The public and private sector share responsibility to combat poverty and social exclusion • Eradicating poverty for a more cohesive society benefits all • Commitment at all levels of society is needed to achieve this goal.

Introduction

Ireland’s national programme to mark the ‘European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion’ will be officially launched in late

Planned activities include: • Awareness-raising campaigns and studies • Innovative schemes to promote social inclusion • Conferences • Competitions to identify success stories.

Afri ‘active citizenship’ campaign for 2010 Afri, the peace and human rights campaigner, will launch a national “active citizenship” campaign in the new year. A Government-initiated ‘Active Citizenship Office’ was wound up this year. Afri made the call as it noted that “traditional sources of authority have proven to be ineffective”. Joe Murray, Afri co-ordinator, said the decadelong attempt to force the Corrib gas pipeline through, no matter the cost to the community, showed “the need for new avenues of civic participation”.

People with disabilities are at a particularly high risk of poverty

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He welcomed the recent Bord Pleanála decision on the pipeline: “The ruling vindicates the struggle of the local community over the past 10 years.” In November, An Bord Pleanála issued a critical judgement saying up to half the route proposed by Shell and its partner companies was dangerously close to local residences. “The Corrib gas dispute in many ways tells the story of modern Ireland,” Mr Murray said. “The result has been an erosion of civil liberties and the emergence of corporate rule, where multinationals appear to have greater rights than Irish citizens,” he said. He said the ongoing use of Shannon Airport in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was another example of the voices of ordinary people in Ireland being ignored. Keep an eye out for Afri’s citizenship campaign in the new year. W: www.afri.ie

CHANGING IRELAND ISSUE 30/31  

Hot in Issue 30/31: bumper Double Issue Community Development Programme to end after 20 years/ 180 projects: facing wind-up in 2010/ New Pro...

CHANGING IRELAND ISSUE 30/31  

Hot in Issue 30/31: bumper Double Issue Community Development Programme to end after 20 years/ 180 projects: facing wind-up in 2010/ New Pro...

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