DEPRIVATION: CHILDREN ARE now scavenging in bins for food, such is the dire level of poverty among some Irish families, the Kilkenny branch of the St Vincent de Paul society has said.
Its president Liam Heffernan said two five-year-old children were found searching through a bin in Kilkenny city in recent days by a social worker who contacted the HSE in relation to the case.
“We are seeing Third World conditions in the city, with two children found rooting through bins in search of food on High Street. I also saw an adult searching through a bin recently for food. I have never seen conditions so bad. People are going hungry and are in desperate need of fuel and there is a real chance that there could be an awful tragedy if people don’t act,” he said.
Brendan Dempsey, Cork regional president of the society, said he had seen adults but not children going through bins in Cork city. It was something he had noticed over the last couple of months, but not before.
“It’s years since I saw anybody rooting through bins but I do know that families are extremely hard pressed at the moment and there are children going to bed hungry,” he said. “I’ve been in houses where they literally had nothing in the fridge,” he added. These included families where both parents had lost their jobs.
“Social welfare will put food on the table but it’s not enough to pay a mortgage and utility bills.”
John Monaghan, national vice-president of the society, said he had not heard reports of children scavenging in bins for food before. “That really is a very extreme case. While I’m shocked to hear about those young children I’m not totally surprised. We are seeing families literally every week in probably every part of the country that are hungry,” he said.
“I can certainly understand how it could happen. We have members going into families with very little or no food in the house because they are struggling on social welfare and are in debt or struggling to pay the mortgage and everything else goes on the back burner.”
Children were going to school today in Dublin, he added, from houses with no heat or light and little food. Calls for support this year are up by an average of 35 per cent on 2009, and by more than 50 per cent in Cork and more than 40 per cent in Dublin, he said.