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Citizens’ forum to urge Government action on income inequality

A national ‘citizens’ forum,’ organised by the Claiming Our Future group, will this week urge the Government to take steps to reduce Ireland’s income gap. Some 500 participants at the event, which takes place in Galway next Saturday (28th May), will hear that income inequality is hampering economic growth and contributing to expensive social problems.

Speaking ahead of the event, which is open to all, Claiming Our Future spokesperson Niall Crowley said Ireland was a very unequal society where the richest 10% received nearly a quarter of total disposable income, while the poorest households got just 2.3%. He pointed to a recent IMF analysis, which concluded that high growth spells are much more likely to end in countries like Ireland with less equal income distribution.

“Cracking the gap between rich and poor is essential to fixing our economy and our society. Income inequality affects everything in our lives including life expectancy, educational attainment and social mobility, all of which are lower in countries with higher income inequality. Meanwhile unequal societies have poorer mental health and higher rates of imprisonment and violence. We simply can’t afford to ignore income inequality,” he said.

A 2010 TASC survey found that 91% of people wanted active steps to reduce the gap between high and low earners. When asked about the specific measures Government should take, 16% backed raising the minimum wage, 29% were in favour of establishing a maximum wage, and 49% were wanted some combination of the two.

Claiming Our Future staged Ireland’s first citizens’ forum last October, which attracted over 1,000 people from all walks of life. It is a non-party group made up of individuals and organisations that believe the economic crisis can be a turning point for reshaping Ireland’s economic recovery and reasserting progressive social values of equality, sustainability, and participation. It is a broad movement of individuals and civil society organisations including community groups, trade unions and environmentalists.

Note to editors

The Claiming Our Future national citizens’ forum takes place at NUI Galway from 10.00am on Saturday 28th May 2011. Up to 500 people can register for the all-day event via www.claimforourfuture.ie website.


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