Analysis & Comment

Over one million people were in receipt of  COVID-19-related income supports as of May this year.  584,641 were in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) and 473,500 people had availed of the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS).  These numbers have been decreasing as the economy slowly starts to open again, those who needed to avail of loan repayment breaks and rent freezes will face likely financial distress.

The current State Pension system deprives many people who have spent their lives in caring roles of financial security in their old age. These are people society should be rewarding, not penalising. With the new Programme for Government committing to the proposed Auto Enrolment Plan, an opportunity to increase the fairness of the Irish pension system is being missed, and at a substantial financial cost.

A robust Social Dialogue process with the broad-based enhancement of capabilities in the economy and society at its core would assist in driving a sustainable recovery from the current crisis that will boost business development, improve wellbeing and invest in the future of citizens and communities.

The COVID-19 crisis highlighted, among other things, the importance of community and a community-based response.  Yet this importance is often not reflected in the decision-making processes that affect those communities.  While the draft Programme for Government makes welcome reference to Social Dialogue at national level, there is a role for local level Social Dialogue also.

The commitment to using wellbeing indicators alongside economic indicators in the Programme for Government is welcome.  Creating a sustainable Ireland requires the adoption of new indicators to measure progress. To reflect this, the wellbeing indicators that the new Government has committed to developing must include new indicators measuring both wellbeing and sustainability in society, to be used alongside measures of national income like GDP, GNP and GNI.

The most competitive economies of Europe all collect substantially more tax than Ireland does. The evidence suggests that a low tax, low service strategy for attracting investment is short-sighted and that quality education, infrastructure and services are far more important.


A sustainable environment, a sustainable society and a sustainable economy require thriving communities across the entire country, but especially in rural areas.  It requires leadership and commitment on the policies required to move to a low carbon future, and also requires that we measure what counts.

Budget 2021 should include a tax on windfall gains from the re-zoning of agricultural land. This money should be made available to local authorities and used to address the ongoing housing problems they face.

Ireland generally does a poor job of taxing land and property. Our inefficient Local Property Tax is a perfect example of this. A Site Value Tax would be a fairer and more efficient way to generate revenue, and it would also incentivise better use of land.

Making the two main income tax credits refundable would provide Government with an efficient mechanism by which it can address the issue of the working poor. Specific interventions are required to tackle the problem of in-work poverty and Refundable Tax Credits must be a part of the plan.

Recent publications

A full analysis of the draft Programme for Government will be published in due course. In the meantime, our initial response highlights 10 positives contained within the PfG and 10 causes for concern. We go on to list other areas contained in the document on which Social Justice Ireland had advocated and campaigned.


‘A Rising Tide Failing to Lift All Boats’ is the latest publication in Social Justice Ireland’s European Research Series.   This report analyses performance in areas such as poverty and inequality, employment, access to key public services and taxation.  The report also points to key policy proposals and alternatives for discussion.  These include the right to sufficient income, meaningful work and access to essential quality services.  The policy proposals explore how these areas might be delivered upon in a changing world.

The MA in Social Justice and Public Policy is a two year part-time programme which gives students a unique opportunity to develop a theoretical framework and the deep capacity for analysis, understanding, knowledge, skills and practices needed to engage meaningfully in social change towards a more just and inclusive society focusing particularly on influencing public policy.

We are delighted to announce the launch of two scholarships for this Masters programme. For more information, Click Here.

Poverty focus is an annual publication from Social Justice Ireland where we focus on the nature and experience of poverty in Ireland. Drawing on the available statistical evidence, we outline how poverty is measured, the value of the poverty line and consider many of the groups in our society who are most exposed to living life below the poverty line.

As we navigate through the global crisis caused by COVID-19, it is clear that tax policy will play a vital role both in the immediate Government response to support people and businesses, and in rebuilding our society and economy once the worst of the health impacts are contained.  This policy briefing explores some options available to the new Government that would increase our overall tax take as a proportion of national income,  broaden our tax base, and deliver a tax policy that would support our social and economic recovery and a new Social Contract

Recent podcasts/videos

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.

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.

In episode 8 of our SJI Seminar Series we take a look back to our 30th Annual Social Policy Conference and to the Keynote Address by President Michael D. Higgins.  In this address, President Higgins reflects on the relative positions of the economy and society, and the shape of political discourse.