Analysis & Comment

As Libraries across the country open their doors on Monday 10th May and reopen for lending services, their closure has highlighted just what an integral community resource they are. 

Once Covid-19 has been defeated, all countries will face a major challenge: to decide how the experience of the pandemic and our response to it should impact the future of our society? Social dialogue could play a vital role in delivering a new Social Contract and rebuilding our society and economy once the worst of the health impacts are contained.   

Training, upskilling and reskilling will be fundamental to Government’s response to impact of COVID-19 on the labour market, meeting our carbon neutrality target and the challenges posed by digitisation.  Apprenticeships and traineeships will be a crucial part of the response.

As part of the Government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, schools, colleges, training centres and workplaces all closed to limit movement of people over a year ago, with sporadic and temporary openings since. How we engage with work and education has fundamentally changed in that twelve-month period as we mostly move to an online environment. Social Justice Ireland urges Government to expedite the roll-out on the National Broadband Plan without further delays.

According to Globescan Sustainability Survey of 500 experts representing business, goverment, NGOs and academia across 75 countries, Climate Change is the most urgent of the 17 SDGs. Unfortunately, Ireland continues to lag behind our EU15 peers in addressing this crisis.

More than 15% of all those in poverty in Ireland have a job while more than a quarter are children.  This is one of the main findings of Social Justice Ireland’s latest study ‘Poverty Focus 2021’.  This scandalous situation persists despite the reduction in poverty rates in recent years.  While progress in reducing poverty is welcome, Government’s failure to raise core social welfare rates in the last two Budgets will see this progress reversed.

The Pensions Commission completed its public consultation with a webinar on Wednesday, 21st April 2021. Bizarrely removed from the remit of the Pensions Commission is the Government's commitment to a system of automatic enrolment, a costly mechanism of increasing private pension coverage, subsidised by the State that will obviously have an impact on policy reform relating to the State pension as it has in other countries. Social Justice Ireland has previously published A Universal State Social Welfare Pension, an analysis of Ireland’s pension system and a fully costed proposal for the introduction of a Universal Pension in Ireland based on residency, not social insurance contributions. A better, and more equitable, use of public funds.

The Government announced yesterday (19th April 2021) the establishment of the Commission on Taxation and Welfare to look at "how best to support economic activity while ensuring sufficient resources available to meet costs of public services". While Social Justice Ireland welcomes the establishment of a Commission to consider how best to structure Ireland's taxation system to support the provision of Decent Services and Infrastructure, we are concerned that too much focus will be placed on employment activation, rather than delivering Just Taxation and functioning welfare system to support the eradication of poverty. 

One of the key tools at our disposal to reduce poverty is social welfare. If Government is serious about reducing poverty and meeting the targets set out in the Roadmap for Social Inclusion then the first step must be to benchmark social welfare rates to 27.5 per cent of average earnings, and to do this over either one or two budgetary cycles.

Social Justice Ireland 
welcomes the announcement that the Low Pay Commission has been give terms of reference to investigate how Ireland can move towards a living wage.  In principle, a Living Wage is intended to establish an hourly wage rate that should provide employees with enough income to achieve an agreed acceptable minimum standard of living.  

Recent publications

The Programme for Government committed to a Basic Income pilot in July last year. That November, the Arts and Culture Recovery Taskforce recommended a basic income for artists. On Wednesday, 12th May 2021, Social Justice Ireland will set out our proposals on how these can be achieved, with responses from the Arts and Trade Union sectors. REGISTER NOW to join us for this important event.

Poverty Focus examines the nature and experience of poverty in Ireland and sets out a series of solutions that could be adopted by Government.  Each year Poverty Focus highlights one area of concern while also commenting on the general policy landscape.  This year we pay particular attention to the impact of social welfare rates on low income households.

Social Justice Matters 2021 guide to a fairer Irish Society provides a key reference point for anybody working on Irish social justice issues in 2021.  

Measuring Progress: The Sustainable Progress Index 2021 ranks 15 comparable EU countries based on their delivery of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  Written by Prof. Charles M.A. Clark of St John’s University, NY and Dr. Catherine Kavanagh of UCC, the index compares 15 EU countries across all UN SDGs, assesses their performance on each individual SDG and creates a ranking table for performance overall. In case you missed the launch, all presentations are now available to stream.

Since early 2014, the PPNs have evolved, from the initial Introduction Period, through the Development Period to the Consolidation Period (Bourke, 2017) and are now firmly established and recognised as the main conduit by which Local Authorities engage with their communities, with a membership of more than 15,000 organisations from the Community and Voluntary, Social Inclusion and Environmental sectors (Department of Rural and Community Development, 2019). This research is based on a survey of relevant stakeholders and their experience of the participation processes at local government level. 

Recent podcasts/videos

Click  here to check out our Budget Choices 2021 Policy Briefing, and watch the video of the launch seminar.

Less than 24 hours after Ministers Donohoe and McGrath stood up in the Convention Centre to deliver the Budget speech, Social Justice Ireland published the first full and comprehensive analysis of Budget 2021. Click here to read our analysis, or to view the video of our post-Budget 2021 seminar, delivered the morning after Budget Day.

Watch the videos from our 2020 Global Justice Day Seminar here. Professor Charles Clark of St John's University in New York and Colette Bennett, Research and Policy Analyst at Social Justice Ireland, launched our Sustainable Progress Index 2020.

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.