'Third of Irish children living in deprivation'
Almost a third of all Irish children live in deprived households, a new UNICEF study has shown.
The new report, which examines Ireland among 40 other OECD countries, states that children are now the most neglected demographic in Irish society.
Ireland currently has the fourth worst income inequality in the EU, with an income gap of over 76pc.
It places this country just below the UK, Belgium and Bulgaria.
However, Ireland's gap narrows to just over 41pc once social protection payments are made. These payments are known as social transfers.
But UNICEF says this gap is unsustainable and leaves many families "living on the edge".
Households are deemed deprived if they cannot afford at least three items from a list of essential items, as defined by the EU.
Items on the list include housing, heating, utility bills and a protein meal every second day.
Other essentials are the ability to face unexpected expenses, a holiday, a phone, a TV, a washing machine or a car.
Peter Power, Executive Director of UNICEF Ireland, said: "100 years ago this month, the Proclamation proclaimed to cherish all Irish children equally."
"This report demonstrates that as a demographic group Irish children are falling behind other sections of society."
Writing in the Irish Independent, Mr Power added: "The message is stark: as inequality increases, wealthy nations of the world are failing their most vulnerable children," he said.
"Those with the least ability to narrow the gaps are being allowed to fall furthest behind."
UNICEF has urged the incoming government to act on the findings, saying that all other groups in Irish society were better protected during the economic collapse than children.
The body also called for protection of incomes of households with the poorest children, the improvement of educational achievements of disadvantaged learners and the promotion of healthy lifestyles for all children and young people.