A leading charity executive has said that the number of children living in consistent poverty would fill Croke Park twice over.

Barnardos Chief Executive Fergus Finlay said the children's charity saw an increase in demand of 8% last year, working with over 12,000 children and families.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr Finlay said that Ireland is brilliant at "picking up the pieces after the damage has been done" but that the State does not believe in early intervention, which is key to preventing and solving the problem.

He added that halving the number of children living in consistent poverty would involve lifting 95,000 children out of poverty, and said that we cannot go on ignoring the issue and pretending it does not exist.

"We have enough children living in consistent poverty in Ireland to fill Croke Park twice over, to overwhelm the system. And yet it's a silent problem.

"We don't have public discourse about it. We don't decide, we've never decided that this is a preventable or crack-able problem in Ireland," he added.

He praised Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone for her dedication and the introduction of an affordable childcare scheme, but said that the scheme had to be expanded.

Mr Finlay also said a number of other simple measures, such as ensuring children received five home visits from a public health nurse, needed to be put in place.