Nearly 800,000 people in Ireland are living in poverty
The Minister for Finance has admitted that the upturn in the Irish economy is not being equally felt across all sections of society.
Paschal Donohoe was speaking as the Department of Finance announced that it believed seven out of every 10 jobs lost during the recession have now been recovered.
The department expects the country’s GDP to grow by 3.5% this year – with as many as 48,000 jobs created.
It is hoped Ireland will have effectively reached ‘full’ employment – less than 5% unemployment – by the end of 2018.
Minister Donohoe said he wants to make sure everyone benefits from the upturn:
“Even though we are seeing a recovery that is real in terms of the national figures and one that many people are experiencing, we also know that this is a recovery that not all people are experiencing,” he said.
“We know we are making progress in terms of delivering a recovering economy.
“We know that is clearly not yet the same as a healed society.”
It comes after Social Justice Ireland (SJI) challenged the Government to take advantage of any economic upturn by tackling the huge inequalities in Irish society.
The independent think tank warned that 790,000 people in Ireland – including 250,000 children – are living in poverty.
That figure includes 105,000 people who have jobs but are earning wages so low that they are still living within the poverty bracket.
Meanwhile, one million people are classed as facing deprivation.
SJI has noted that these figures are "unacceptable in a rich, developed country" and warned that it is essential that, as the economy grows, resources are directed towards the major challenges faced by so many people across the country.
The group warned that the housing crisis is one of the biggest challenges facing the population - with Irish rents rising at six times the European average.
Minister Donohoe said the growth in the economy is likely to gradually slow over the coming years.
He said the country’s corporate tax offering will remain competitive despite changes to the system in the US – although he warned that the country remains vulnerable to shocks because of a reliance on corporate tax take.
Just 10 companies accounted for 37% per cent of Ireland's corporate tax haul last year.