Reports of a Cork child fainting in the classroom due to “severe undernourishment” is not at all surprising due to poverty levels in Ireland, the Cork head of St Vincent de Paul has said.
At last night’s city council meeting Cllr Ted Tynan said he had heard of the incident occurring in a Cork primary school within the last fortnight.
“A seven-year-old child fainted in the classroom and a doctor was called. It turned out that the child was severely under nourished,” he said.
Cllr Tynan said he would not be naming the school involved to protect the child but said the child’s mother was unable to stock their fridge at home.
Brendan Dempsey, the head of St Vincent de Paul in Cork, said he had not received reports of children going hungry but said it was not surprising.
“I have seen it twice in the past nine weeks where adults have had weaknesses from a lack of food. I think in the future we will start to hear cases of children in similar situations,” he said.
“It used to be the case that people came to use for help to buy shoes or pay an ESB bill. Now they are coming to us for help to buy food,” Mr Dempsey said.
His comments were backed up by Independent Councillor Mick Finn who works as project worker in 11 southside schools.
“One of those schools operates a breakfast club where they provide a healthy meal in the morning for some pupils. I know a further eight schools are planning on introducing something similar from September.”
“There are social welfare supports available to ensure that children do not go hungry but there could be a variety of situations where that safety net fails,” he said.
“It could be a lack of parenting skills or that money is being spent elsewhere rather than where it should be, on the family necessities,” he said.
Cllr Tynan’s comments last night came during a debate on poverty in Ireland.
A Sinn Féin motion on the issue was passed unanimously by councillors.
It calls for a National Poverty Strategy to bring consistent poverty levels in Ireland down to zero.