Saturday 24 September 2016

Damning EU report on Ireland’s public services delayed until after polls closed

Published 26/02/2016 | 22:06

Officials decided to hold back the lengthy and often critical report so as not to influence voters (stock image)
Officials decided to hold back the lengthy and often critical report so as not to influence voters (stock image)

The publication of a damning report on Ireland’s public services was delayed until after polls closed tonight.

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Officials in the European Commission decided to hold back the lengthy and often critical report so as not to influence voters.

Similar reports for other EU member states were released this afternoon, but the Commission confirmed that it delayed the Irish one, until 10pm tonight.

Although highlighting the strength of the economic recovery, the 89-page report criticises the lack of funding in education, the high cost of childcare and pointed to problems in housing, the increase in poverty and income inequality and the inadequacy of public transport in Dublin.

The body said Ireland had experienced a “remarkable” economic turnaround over the last two years, with unemployment, debt and the deficit were falling, and the banks were improving.

But it warned long-term unemployment and the low work intensity of households remained a concern, as did mortgage arrears.

Childcare, infrastructure and funding for education came in for criticism with the Commission warning that even though levels of educational achievement and attainment are fairly high, public funding for education is well below the EU average.

Upskilling and reskilling opportunities remain insufficient, it said.

The Commission said relative poverty and income inequality has increased.

“The proportion of people living in households with very low work intensity continues to be high,” the report said.

“Children in low work intensity households are directly affected by the risk of poverty or social exclusion.”

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