Policymakers must listen to people living in poverty – Mayor

Dublin’s Lord Mayor calls for “bottom-up system of government”

The voices of people living in poverty must be included in decision making and preparation of policies to tackle poverty, the Lord Mayor of Dublin has said.

A number of charities and social justice groups came together at the Famine memorial in Dublin today to mark the United Nations International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (Oct 17).

The theme this year was ‘Working towards a world without discrimination: Building on the experience and knowledge of people in extreme poverty’, and for the first time takes into account input and feedback from activists and people living in poverty.

Addressing the gathering on Custom House Quay, the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Oisin Quinn said the challenge set by the UN highlights the “discrimination people face on a daily basis because of their poverty and marginalisation in the political, social and economic spheres of our society, their lack of a voice and representation in the preparation of policies that are intended or at least set out to address poverty”.

“I am conscious of how many policies that are prepared with the best of intentions fail to a significant degree. Part of that I think is because they are not designed by the people that they are intended to help,” he said.

Cllr Quinn said that the key message from today is that “what is missing from the efforts of developed countries to tackle poverty is often the very people they are trying to help”, and he emphasised the need for a “bottom-up system of government in working to make society better”.

The guest speaker was Sr Caoimhin Ni Uallachain, who has worked in solidarity with the community of Ballyfermot for 40 years “accompanying them in their homes, in hospital, on the streets, in the courts and in prison”. Testimonies were given by speakers from the ATD Fourth World, Irish Refugee Council, Migrant Rights Centre, Vincentian Refugee Centre and Focus Ireland.

A number of Dublin schools providing drumming, music and song, and refreshments were prepared at Liberty Hall by Crosscare, the social care agency of the Archdiocese of Dublin.