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Poverty: 'There is a dominant narrative that seeks to blame people for their circumstances'

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POVERTY IS A very real and pervasive issue that affects the lives of tens of thousands of people in Ireland today. The latest CSO figures show that over 780,000 people are living below the poverty line. Particularly stark is that there are now 70,000 more children growing up in consistent poverty when compared to 2008.

This is unacceptable in a rich country like Ireland. But poverty tends to be an issue that is pushed down the political agenda and attempts to work towards change can be undermined by unhelpful media narratives, stereotypes and misunderstandings about the issues.

There is a dominant narrative that seeks to blame people for their circumstances; the result of a history of poor choices. But the reality is choices are dramatically different for people living in poverty compared to those with access to resources.

Resources, be they financial, social, cultural or educational, give people the freedom to make real choices about their future. Poverty rarely allows you to plan for the future, as your thoughts are consumed by how you will make your budget stretch to the end of the week, or how you will put food on the table today.

What do we mean when we talk about poverty?

Relative poverty, which compares how people are faring relative to the society they........

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