Ireland’s hardest hit to get double the help from the EU

Anti-poverty package to give €3 million a year to combat rising demands for food


Ireland will get double the money to help its poorest citizens as part of €3.5 billion package passed in the European Parliament in Strasbourg today.

Dublin MEP Emer Costello led the team to negotiate the Fund for the European Aid to the most deprived package, which increased the country’s annual fund from €1.5million to €3 million.

The programme, which aims to help those hit hardest by the economic crisis, was endorsed by the majority of MEPs. Ms Costello, who was appointed rapporteur for the group in 2012, said Ireland was in dire need of the additional funding to cope with the number of people struggling to live.

“Food banks are stretched beyond capacity with the high increases in demand. People are really struggling,” she said.

“The levels of homelessness are increasing,”

“When you see the number of people on the streets of Dublin you can see we need it.”

Ms Costello said the report showed 330,000 people across the country could not afford to put a meal on their table every second day.

The previous aid scheme used was “food-based” and concerned with the distribution of agricultural surpluses from such as beef, cheese and butter.

The funding can also be used for essential materials such as nappies and sleeping bags.

“It will help people who need it get their lives back in gear,” she said.

Ms Costello said there were a number of countries strongly opposed to the programme, including the UK and Germany, who believed food should be a national responsibility-not European.

Ms Costello said the money was in addition to national policy and did not replace the Government’s responsibilities.

“In no way does it lift any requirements from the Government to deal with these issues,” she said.

The new programme will be operational from March and backdated to mid-December 2013.