ESRI study finds the divide between rich and poor in Ireland is getting wider.

While the number of poor is declining, the gap between the rich and poor in Ireland is widening according to a new study on poverty levels.

The Economic & Social Research Institute (ESRI) report shows that while many people are getting richer and there has been a decline in deprivation levels, others are struggling. The study shows that despite the economic boom, people relying on social welfare payments have fallen far behind the rest of the population.

The findings of the report show that three per cent couldn't afford new clothes compared to 10 per cent in 1994. Six per cent are living below the poverty line which is a drop of four per cent over the same period.

While social welfare payments rose, they didn't match wage increases.

Brian Nolan of the ESRI says that we are now looking ahead to falling levels of economic growth.

John Mark McCafferty of the Society of St Vincent DePaul , says that there is little comfort in this report for the poor. Many people are surviving on less than half the average industrial wage which leads to problems for them in participating in society.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 8 August 2002. The reporter is Ray Kennedy.