By Harry Keaney
The Celtic Tiger can boast of many achievements. Fairness is not one of them, it seems.
According to a recent United Nations report, Ireland has the highest levels of poverty in the industrialized world after the United States.
For the second successive year, the Human Development Report ranks Ireland 16th out of 17 Western countries. The report, details of which were published in the Irish media, says that 15.3 percent of Ireland’s population is now living in "human poverty."
And, for the first time in many years, Ireland has fallen in the ranking of social progress used in the report prepared by the UN development program. Of the 174 countries surveyed in the human development index, Ireland is now 20th, down from 17th last year. The fall is the result of new ways of calculating data as well as changes in some of Ireland’s figures for educational enrollment.
The human development index takes account of income levels, life expectancy and education. The UN development report measures what it terms "human poverty" by looking at the figures for life expectancy after 60, illiteracy, poverty and long-term unemployment.
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The results show that, while Ireland is among the most desirable places in which to live, there are major inequalities in the distribution of wealth.
Ireland’s poor showing can be largely attributed to high figures for functional illiteracy. Almost 23 percent of Irish people are functionally illiterate, meaning they have difficulty performing basic tasks such as reading a bill or following instructions on a medicine bottle. Ireland also has one of the highest rates of long-term unemployment, at 7.1 percent.. Only Italy and Spain are higher.
The UK emerges as the most unequal society, with the wealth of the richest 20 percent almost 10 times that of the poorest 20 percent.
Those who live in Canada, Norway and the U.S. enjoy the highest quality of life in the world. War-torn Sierra Leone, in Africa, is listed as the worst place to live.
The human development report points out that technology innovations, such as the internet, can open a "fast-track" to knowledge-based growth but, at present, these innovations benefit the well-off and educated.
"An invisible barrier has emerged that, true to its name, is like a world-wide web, embracing the connected and silently, imperceptibly, excluding the rest."
At Limerick University
The National Education Training Group, a multinational corporation specializing in computer-based training, is sponsoring more than £1 million in software courses at the University of Limerick. A recent visitor to the university was Professor David Merrill, from the University of Utah, an expert in the field of information design and computer-based training.
More than 70 graduates attended a recent function held by university’s alumni association in Glucksman Ireland House in New York. Guests of honor were Dr. Roger Downer, president of the University of Limerick, and his wife, Jean. The alumni association recently launched a chapter in Boston, at the Boston College Club.
AIF dinner dance
The American Ireland Fund annual dinner dance will take place Nov. 17 in the Boston Marriott, Copley Place. The 1999 dinner chairman is John J. O’Connor, managing partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers. Details, (617) 574-0720.
The Irish Business Organization’s next New York networking breakfast will take place July 28 at 8 a.m. in the Mezze Restaurant, 44th Street, between Fifth and Madison avenues. The next IBO New Jersey networking breakfast will take place Aug. 3 at 8 a.m. in the Grasshopper 2 Restaurant, Carlstadt.
The annual IBO boat ride takes place Aug. 11. The boat trip, which replaces the August monthly meeting, will depart at 7:30 p.m. from Pier 16 South Street Seaport and will return at 10:30 p.m. Tickets $35 in advance before Aug. 6. Afterwards, tickets cost $40. Non-members welcome.
Mention Westchester County and most people think of suburbia, commuting, business, industry. But don’t forget tourism. Revenue from bookings in Westchester County hotels exceeded $203 million in fiscal 1998, a 17.2 percent increase on 1997, according to the Westchester Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The bureau said there was a 23 percent increase in revenue from food and dining, shopping, entertaining and transportation by tourists during the state’s fiscal year, which ran from Oct. 1, 1997, to Sept. 30, 1998. Also, tourism brought in nearly $26 million in tax revenue in 1998, up 20.1 percent on 1997.
According to the bureau, the figures together show a fifth consecutive year of record growth in revenue generated from Westchester travel and tourism-related businesses.