17 October 2023

  • On Tuesday the 17th Of October ATD Ireland and the 17th October Committee had our annual commemoration for the UN Day for the Eradication of Poverty at the Human Rights and Poverty Stone on the Custom House Quay in Dublin. The theme this year was “Let Dignity Be Our Compass: Working Together Towards Change”. The commemoration included testimony and speeches from many people, including those wigh lived experiences of poverty, exclusion and justice. Also speaking were The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Daithí de Róiste, the Minister of State at the Department of Social Protection, Joe O’Brien and others. Not only did the event include words from many people but it also included music and common gesture which added to the overall event.  
  • The event started off with words from the MC- Professor Mary Murphy from Maynooth University. Professor Murphy drew attention to the fact that throughout Ireland and in many places across the world many others were marking the 17th of October with their own events. Next The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Daithí de Róiste spoke. He spoke in a very inspirational manner; he discussed how people had doubted him in the past because of where he was from. Once the Lord Mayor of Dublin had finished his piece St. Mary’s secondary school, Holy Faith, Glasnevin sang the very inspirational and moving song- “Something Inside so Strong”.  
  • Following the song, the message of the human rights and poverty stone was read. It was read in French by Hilary from MRCI, in English by Jimmy an ATD community activist and in Irish by Councillor Micheál MacDonncha. Following the reading of the Human Rights and Poverty Stone we were very pleased to have TD Joe O’ Brien Minister of State with responsibility for Community Development and Charities present at the event to listen and say some words. He spoke on the Roadmap for Social Inclusion- the national strategy for poverty reduction and improved social inclusion and the recent changes to social welfare as announced in Budget 2024.

“My department supports 17 local, regional and national events such as the UN International Day for the Eradication of Poverty and both the Department and I are committed to addressing all forms of poverty”.  We were also very encouraged to have the Minister publicly acknowledge the #Addthe10th campaign.  Speaking on the theme of Zero Discrimination, the minister stated;  “We are committed in government in adding a 10th ground”.

  • Subsequently the Presidents message was read by Paul, an ATD community activist.

So much urgent work needs to be done. The recent United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals progress Report reveals weak or insufficient progress on over 50% of targets, with 30% stalled or regressing, including critical objectives related to poverty, insufficiency and hunger.  It is crucial to unite, to work together on a moral basis for intergenerational justice, and to strive to achieve these Goals in the aim of a better, more just future“.

  • After the President’s message Andrew, an ATD community activist, read a speech that he has previously made at an event hosted by the UN in New York. This was a very powerful speech which spoke about hope for change in the future.  

Can you imagine a world where the dignity of everyone is respected in practice, as is the international theme for 17 October this year? Can you just imagine living in poverty for 35 years or longer, like I wasn’t even born, my mother lived in poverty and it passed onto me so it’s way longer.  That is the reason I am here; to try and show ye that even though I have gone through this that I still have a voice and I intend to use it so my kids, and all kids, don’t have to go through what I have gone through”.

Next many people gave testimonies based on lived experience of poverty and injustice. Shelly from the Independent Living Movement Ireland (ILMI) spoke about each of the points on the compass for dignity and what each of them mean for disabled people. For example, when speaking on zero discrimination she said, “For disabled people, this will mean that our views are being heard and we as disabled people are informing policy, practice and systems”. This was a very powerful speech.  Anne Marie, an ATD community activist, spoke about many things including the hardships she has endured through her life because of poverty, for example “We had many a hungry day. As a child, I had no confidence. I did not think I was worth anything”. This helped people understand how damaging poverty can be to a person.

  • Next was Una from the SAOL project, who bravely shared about her childhood growing up in extreme poverty; “This is what poverty was like for me growing up, this is my story and how it affected me, it wasn’t fun, it was very confusing, painful at times, but here I am in completely different circumstances telling my story, that was the hand I was dealt but now I am trying to change things for my own kids so they will have better lives”. Dwayne from Matt Talbot, speaks about his experience in recovering from addiction.  He shares a poem that he says relates to his experience;’ An Autobiography in five chapters’ by Portia Nelson.


I walk down the street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I fall in. I am lost. I am helpless.

It isn’t my fault.

It takes forever to find a way out.



I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I still don’t see it. I fall in again.

I can’t believe I am in the same place.

It isn’t my fault.

It still takes a long time to get out.



I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I see it there, I still fall in.

It’s habit. It’s my fault.

I know where I am.

I get out immediately.



I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I walk around it.



I walk down a different street.

  • Kay from the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI), spoke on the struggles she has faced as a migrant to Ireland. Mary from Pavee Point discussed the stark inequalities faced by Travellers and Dr. Joe Whelan who read a Testimony from Haiti.  Everyone spoke in a way that helped to emphasize the importance of the day.  
  • Following the very powerful testimonies, St Laurence O’Toole CBS and St Laurence O’Toole National School sang “He lives in you” from the lion king. This helped to make the overall event more engaging and entertaining.  Next the common gesture was carried out. This involved testimony speakers, the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Meaghan from Coalition 2030, Maurice  from Global Citizenship Schools and a student from St. Mary’s secondary school Glasnevin carrying five garlands towards the Human Rights and Poverty Stone, decorated using the themes of ‘Zero Discrimination’, ‘Affordable Accommodation’, ‘Dignified Work and Opportunities to Participate’ and ‘A minimum Standard of Income’. This part of the event was captivating. 
  • The event was finished with a song from SAOL. Overall, this was an extremely important event which helped to commemorate October 17th whilst raising awareness about poverty.  It was an event in which like-minded people came together to express their passion for the eradication for poverty.

Afterwards, we came in from the cold next door in EPIC CHQ building where we hosted our ‘Breaking Barriers’ exhibition’ to have refreshments and conversations.  Thank you very much to all who took part in the UN Day for the Eradication of Poverty this year.  Thank you very much to those who shared their testimony.  Thank you to the crowd for providing such a supportive atmosphere.  Thank you to the Lord Mayor of Dublin for taking part and to the Department of Social Protection for funding the 17th October event and supporting us to network with all the 17th October events happening throughout the country.  Thank you to the Minister of State Joe O Brien for speaking.  Thank you to the schools and musician Naoise Griffiths for providing the uplifting music.  Thank you to the 17th October for organising the event this year.  It was a pleasure as always to work with you all.