Date: Mon 17th Oct, 2022 | 11:02
“As President of Ireland, I am delighted to once more join those gathered today in Dublin and Strasbourg, and indeed all those gathered around the world, in marking 17th October, the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.
This year is the 35th anniversary of the first such gathering in Paris in 1987 and the 30th anniversary of United Nations recognition of the Day, yet the need to make the required changes to eradicate poverty remain as urgent as ever. Is this not the basic form of security, to be free from extreme poverty?
This year’s theme, ‘Dignity for All in Practice’, is particularly relevant as we consider the challenges facing those living in poverty both in Ireland and across the world. All of us must be able to participate in the society of our time without shame, as Amartya Sen put it, and the right to be treated with dignity is one fundamental to us all.
As a society, we need to ask whether those groups which are most discriminated against in Ireland are treated with respect and dignity by those responsible for the provision of adequate public services and supports.
For example, too often members of lower income socio-economic groups, the Travelling community, those in direct provision, migrants, victims of gender-based violence, those seeking vital access to housing or those suffering from the devastating impacts of addiction and their families are not treated with appropriate dignity. This must be addressed.
Surely the most important right which any of us must have is the right to be free from the threat of hunger, yet today we also find ourselves, once more, in the position of another grave crisis in the Horn of Africa. It is one of horrific, preventable scenes of famine and severe malnutrition across a region that has endured devastating hunger three times in three decades.
While immediate humanitarian intervention is required, this alone is not sufficient. Let us take the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty as an opportunity to commit to challenging the structural factors contributing to food insecurity and do so from a rights-based perspective, dealing with issues such as debt, monopolistic control of production and distribution of staples in food.
Only by addressing these structural issues, which there has been a refusal to consider, will we truly be able to speak of dignity for all in practice.
I salute on this special day all those who are working to end global poverty.
Michael D. Higgins
President of Ireland”