Urgent decision needs to be made on school meals this week – Ó Ríordáin
A decision on whether to extend the provision of free school meals over the summer period must be made this week according to Labour Education Spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin.
Deputy Ó Ríordáin said:
“This week is the final week of term, next week is the beginning of July and if the decision is to be made to extend the school meals programme for July and August then it needs to be made today or tomorrow at the latest.
“Vulnerable children need these school meals now more than ever. The economy has essentially fallen apart with unemployment, domestic violence, addiction and mental health challenges on the rise.
“There is a bone-crushing and spirit-crushing humiliation that goes with hunger and it has a deeply wounding effect on the child who is hungry.
“This is placing an enormous strain on families; children will suffer in these circumstances and go hungry. The disregard shown by the Government to vulnerable children has been disappointing, this a simple measure that would make an enormous difference to a child from a poor background.
“We are asking the Government to make the decision today or tomorrow to extend the programme for July and August as has happened in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England. If the authorities in these jurisdictions have recognised that children will go hungry if their respective school meals programmes do not continue over the summer, why hasn’t this Government?
Deputy Ó Ríordáin continued:
“As I said to Minister McHugh during a Dáil debate, if the decision to extend the school meals programme for the summer is one of the last decisions of the outgoing Government then they would be congratulated strongly right across the house and I am appealing to them to do the right thing.