Nine Irish billionaires earned over whopping €3 billion in 2020, despite pandemic and global recession

Nine Irish billionaires earned over whopping €3 billion in 2020, despite pandemic and global recession

NINE of Ireland's wealthiest billionaires raked in a cool €3.28 billion last year despite the worst global recession in almost one hundred years, an Oxfam report has revealed.

The report was compiled ahead of the World Economic Forum's virtual Davos Agenda event, which is usually held in the Swiss Alps, but will be hosted online this year owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

Putting the wealth increase into perspective, the report states that one tenth of the money earned by these nine high-net-worth individuals (€300 million) would cover the cost of a vaccine for every person within the Republic of Ireland.

It's understood that the wealth increase mirrors a worrying global trend of worsening inequality over the past decade where the poorer are being left worst off; a process likely being accelerated by the coronavirus.

Another striking finding shows that while it may take decades for the world’s poorest to recover from the economic fallout, the 1,000 richest people on earth recuperated their Covid-19 losses within just nine months of the beginning of the pandemic.

One of the starkest indicators of inequality in current times, the report alleges, is "between those who have access to a life-saving vaccine and those who don't".

While many societies are looking to a vaccine to mitigate the effects of the pandemic, there are signs that vaccine supplies and distribution chains are being monopolised by wealthier nations with more purchasing power.

A small group of countries, representing approximately 14% of the world's population, have already purchased half the supply of established Covid-19 vaccines, the report reveals.

"Rigged economies are funnelling wealth to a rich elite who are riding out the pandemic in safety, while those on the frontline - our shop assistants, healthcare workers and factory workers - are struggling to pay the bills and put food on the table, and often do not have benefits such as paid sick leave," said Jim Clarken, the chief executive of Oxfam Ireland.

He went on to say: "We stand to witness the greatest rise in inequality since records began, with the deep divide between the rich and poor proving as deadly as the virus itself.

"Rising inequality means it could take at least 14 times longer for the number of people living in poverty to return to pre-pandemic levels than it took for the fortunes of the top 1,000, mostly white male billionaires, to bounce back.

"In Ireland, the fallout of the pandemic on employment has disproportionately hit young adults as well as people in low-paid occupations, all of whom are more likely to be paying rent," he added.

"Without significant government intervention, we are looking at a return to long-term unemployment, increasing risks of homelessness and economic insecurity for younger generations in Ireland," Mr Clarken concluded.