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Ireland is 10th best country to be a child but poverty gap is widening

Ireland is at risk of leaving its most vulnerable children behind as the poverty gap widens, a UN report has found.

Unicef cited Ireland as the 10th best place in the world to be a child in a league table for child wellbeing in 29 industrialised countries.

Its report card found that, while Ireland has a relatively low child-poverty rate of 8.5pc, those who do fall below the breadline fall harder than in 25 other countries – giving Ireland one of the largest child- poverty gaps.

The data, calculated in 2010, will be launched at a meeting of international experts in Dublin who aim to end child poverty within the EU.

Peter Power, executive director of Unicef Ireland, said: "It's vital we don't forget the children who are behind these statistics, who have always been below the poverty line and continue to fall.

"We are in danger of leaving our most vulnerable groups of children behind. There are young people finishing school faced with an uncertain future who need more options for further education and training.

The report card recorded a significant decline in children smoking and more modest declines in drinking and teenage pregnancies.

It found that Ireland has the highest rate of children exercising, with almost one in three children exercising for at least an hour a day.

And, Ireland is one of only five countries to experience an increase in bullying during the 2000s.

Globally, the Netherlands retained its position at number one, followed by Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. The UK was 16th on the report card.

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