Analysis & Comment

Ireland's increased employment and low unemployment rates are occurring in the context of a notably lower participation rate compared to the previous employment peak. Here, we look at some of the participation trends behind the headline numbers.

Digital technology can improve our lives but it also poses a major risk of widening social inequality particularly for people without the skills to navigate digital platforms.  As we move towards a future where digital transformation will disrupt the labour market, having the greatest impact on people with lower levels of education and skills, it is important that this cohort are not left behind.   

Whatever combination of parties sits down to negotiate the next Programme for Government, sustainability must be a key focus. This requires a focus on more than just environmental sustainability, but also financial and regional sustainability.

Following triple-digit rates of increase in child and family homelessness since 2014, a decrease in the number of homeless people accessing emergency accommodation was evident in the months of November and December 2019.  A month-on-month decrease in December figures is expected, as Christmas approaches and more emergency beds are made available, however the decrease in November is unusual.  Is this a statistical anomaly or is child and family homelessness really decreasing?  With the state of data collection on homelessness in Ireland described as “statistical obfuscation if not corruption” in a 2019 report commissioned by the European Commission, it can be hard to tell.  There is a need for robust data collection in all policy areas, but particularly those affecting the most vulnerable. In its Policy Brief on Affordable Housing:  Better data and policies to fight homelessness in the OECD, the OECD looks at ways to improve data collection, and therefore evidence-based policies, on homeless. 

The Central Statistics Office recently published the Household Finance and Consumption Survey 2018.  This is the only household survey that collects combined information on asset, income and debt levels of Irish households.  It provides us with a valuable data and insight into where wealth and assets are concentrated (both in terms of location and income deciles), and the levels of debt of Irish households. 

Ireland has one of the most unequal distributions of market income in the European Union. We rely heavily on our tax and social welfare systems to produce a more equal society. High rates of poverty and income inequality have been the norm in Irish society for some time. Read Social Justice Ireland's Election Briefing on Income for an outline of a number of key challenges facing Ireland and some policy proposals that should be in the next Programme for Government.

Ireland is one of the highest greenhouse gas emitters in the EU and we have the highest levels of emissions from agriculture.  We are failing in the necessary planning, services and infrastructure to ensure communities, towns and villages across all regions can adapt to changes that required to move to a more sustainable future.  Read Social Justice Ireland's Election Briefing on Sustainability for an outline of a number of key challenges facing Ireland and some policy proposals that should be in the next Programme for Government.

If a country is setting social and economic goals, it is important that taxation policy supports these goals. Ireland needs to have a real debate, not just about the levels of services and infrastructure it wishes to have in the coming decades, but also how these are to be financed.   Read Social Justice Ireland's Election Briefing on Taxation for an outline of a number of key challenges facing Ireland and some policy proposals that should be in the next Programme for Government.

Ireland's low unemployment rates and impressive jobs creation numbers are being recorded in the context of a far lower participation rate than Ireland has had in the recent past. In addition we face challenges in relation to precarious work and low paid employment.  Read Social Justice Ireland's Election Briefing on Work for an outline of a number of key challenges and some policy proposals that should be in the next Programme for Government.

Our population is growing, and it is ageing which means we need a different approach to healthcare – one we can access in our communities, close to home.   Read Social Justice Ireland's election briefing on Healthcare for an outline of a number of key challenges and some policy proposals that should be in the next Programme for Government.

Recent publications

On Friday February 21st, to mark UN Day of Social Justice, we will launch our Sustainable Progress Index for 2020 at a seminar in Dublin.

The authors of the Index, Professor Charles Clark of St John's University in New York, Catherine Kavanagh of UCC, and Dr Niamh Lenihan, Cork Institute of Technology, will present. Click here to register.

Our 2019 Social Policy Conference was titled "The Challenges of Success" and looked at the appropriate policy responses to Ireland's changing demographics.
Click here to download slides and papers from the conference, watch videos of the presentations, see our handy summary graphics, or download the entire conference booklet for free.

Less than 24 hours after Minister Donohoe stood up in the Dáil to deliver his Budget speech, Social Justice Ireland published the first full and comprehensive analysis of Budget 2020.
Click here to read our analysis, or to view the video of our post-Budget 2020 seminar, delivered the morning after Budget Day.

In the Sustainability edition of our National Social Monitor,  we assess whether current policy on sustainability encompasses the three pillars of environment, society and economy and make proposals on how to transition towards a sustainable future. 

Click here to read Budget Choices 2020, Social Justice Ireland's submission to government ahead of Budget 2020. You can also watch the video of the launch of Budget Choices 2020, where we go through the key details of our submission.

Recent podcasts/videos

Our 2019 Social Policy Conference was titled "The Challenges of Success" and looked at the appropriate policy responses to Ireland's changing demographics.
Click here to download slides and papers from the conference, watch videos of the presentations, see our handy summary graphics, or download the entire conference booklet for free.

Less than 24 hours after Minister Donohoe stood up in the Dáil to deliver his Budget speech, Social Justice Ireland published the first full and comprehensive analysis of Budget 2020.
Click here to read our analysis, or to view the video of our post-Budget 2020 seminar, delivered the morning after Budget Day.

Click here to read Budget Choices 2020, Social Justice Ireland's submission to government ahead of Budget 2020. You can also watch the video of the launch of Budget Choices 2020, where we go through the key details of our submission.

Watch the videos from our 2019 Global Justice Day Seminar here. Professor Charles Clark of St John's University in New York and Catherine Kavanagh of University College Cork launched our Sustainable Progress Index 2019, and Coalition 2030 Coordinator Jennifer Thompson responded.