Analysis & Comment

Social Justice Ireland regrets that to date Government has not committed to supporting European moves to introduce a Financial Transactions Tax. The tax offers the dual benefit of dampening needless and often reckless financial speculation and generating significant funds. Reports have estimated a net revenue yield of between €320m and €350m per annum in Ireland alone, while according to the United Nations, the amount of annual income raised would be enough to guarantee to every citizen of the world basic access to water, food, shelter, health and education. This tax has the potential to wipe out the worst forms of material poverty throughout the world.

Defined as a set of conditions where “individuals or households are not able to adequately heat or provide other required energy services in their homes at affordable cost”, energy poverty affects almost 50 million people in the European Union, according to a recent report from the European Energy Network.  In Ireland, the number of people who went without heat due to financial constraints in 2017 was almost 393,417 (CSO SILC, 2018).  Data released by Eurostat this week (21st May 2019) show that Ireland had the highest increase in gas prices and the fifth highest increase in electricity prices in the EU.  Without adequate measures to tackle the causes of fuel poverty, what next for families going without this basic necessity?

Ireland's nature, biodiversity and wildlife contribute €2.6 billion to this country every year, yet the rate of deterioration and decline is accelerating annually.  If we are really serious about promoting sustainability and combating climate change and biodiversity loss then protecting nature and biodiversity must be at the heart of the All of Government Climate Plan. 

Tax reliefs/expenditures represent revenue to the government that is being foregone. In 2016 tax reliefs amounted to approximately 10 per cent of total tax revenue - a very significant sum. However, unlike direct government expenditure, tax reliefs are not subject to annual assessment as part of the budgetary process. Social Justice Ireland considers it extraordinary that this is the case given the significant cost, and calls for reform of the process.

There are 2,700 properties to rent on the market, according to the latest Daft Rent Report, the lowest number of available rentals since the Report was first published in 2006.  The average asking rent is €1,366 – a year on year increase of 8.3%.  Notwithstanding inflation at a 6-year low, Dublin continues to see the highest rents, ranging from an average of €1,671 in the North County to €2,190 in the South.  Meanwhile rent inflation in Munster has reached an all time high of 12%, with rates in Connaught and Ulster also remaining high.  Government subsidies to private landlords have also increased in last number of years but how sustainable are these, and what are the alternatives?

Local government has the potential to transform our communities but that potential is not being realised.  It is time to harness this potential and deliver more power locally.

Decisions made by general and local Government affect every one of us.  Policies enacted on healthcare, housing, taxation, planning and so on all have an impact on our day to day lives.  Part of the ‘Good Governance’ pillar in Social Justice Ireland’s proposed Policy Framework for a Just Society, is the right of all people to meaningfully participate in the decisions and to have their say in shaping their communities and the world around them.  These rights are a fundamental part of living in a democracy and, as such, should be experienced by all equally.

The Department of Rural and Community Development have published its consultation on the Draft National Social Enterprise Policy.  In our submission, Social Justice Ireland recognises that, in the broader context, social enterprises provide a service to their communities.  It is therefore necessary to question the proposed resourcing, governance and oversight of social enterprises as proposed within this policy and to ensure that the policy meets the needs of the communities being served by social enterprises.  

Investing in lifelong learning and adult education is vital to prevent future skills mismatches and to ensure no-one is excluded from an ever changing labour market. 

Next week, Social Justice Ireland and Trócaire will co-host a hustings event for the Dublin constituency ahead of the European Elections on May 24th. Ahead of this, we have formulated a joint policy platform, with Five Key Policy Asks. They are:

  1. The Elimination of Poverty
  2. The Championing of Climate Justice
  3. Policy Coherence on the SDGs
  4. Delivery on the European Pillar of Social Rights
  5. Supporting an international treaty on Business and Human Rights

Recent publications

Register here for the launch of Budget Choices 2020 document. Join us at Buswells Hotel on Wednesday June 12th from 10.30am to hear and discuss our proposals which would lead towards a fairer, more just society.

In this edition of our National Social Monitor, Social Justice Ireland looks at the budgets of each of the 31 Local Authorities and analyses where the money was spent, and where it wasn’t, to assess the priorities of local government. 

What does your Local Authority value?  What progress is being made at local level to tackle the causes of issues like housing, job sustainability and climate change?  Following the publication of Social Justice Ireland's latest National Social Monitor - Local Issues edition, check out our Local Authority profiles, a one-page overview of each Local Authority area and how it spends its budget on your behalf. 

What are the latest data and trends on poverty in Ireland and why is life on a low income the norm for a large proportion of our society?  Social Justice Ireland’s annual Poverty Focus examines the nature and experience of poverty in Ireland and sets out a series of policy solutions. 

This report was compiled by Social Justice Ireland in light of the Europe 2020 Strategy and its high-level targets, and of Ireland’s National Reform Programme. It is the latest in a series that has tracked Ireland’s performance for many years.

Recent podcasts/videos

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.

Every year, Social Justice Ireland is the first organisation to produce a comprehensive analysis of the national budget. Our document is published less than 24 hours after the Minister for Finance stands up in Leinster House to give his speech. Click here to read our 24-page analysis, or to watch a video of our Budget Response launch seminar at Buswells Hotel from the morning after the Budget.

Watch Social Justice Ireland's Budget Choices Seminar, which was streamed live from Buswells Hotel on Tuesday June 5th.

Dr. Seán Healy, Colette Bennett and Eamon Murphy talk through our budgetary proposals for 2019, including our analysis of the various crises and infrastructural deficits faced by Ireland, and our revenue-raising measures that can help tackle them.

Social Justice Ireland marks UN World Day of Social Justice each year with a seminar looking at Ireland's progress to date in meeting our responsibilities under the Global Goals. You can view video footage of the seminar here.