Analysis & Comment

Housing in Ireland has been mired in controversy for decades – from tenement slums to planning irregularities, and from substandard housing to the institutionalisation of households in emergency accommodation and Direct Provision.  Social Justice Ireland has previously advocated for a 5-Pillar Framework for a new Social Contract.  These Pillars are a Vibrant Economy; Decent Services and Infrastructure; Just Taxation; Good Governance; and Sustainability.  In this article, we explore what those five Pillars might contain in the context of housing, as an example.

The current Local Property Tax system in Ireland is regressive.  It encourages land hoarding and speculation, while dis-incentivising necessary development, such as building more homes in a housing crisis and retrofitting some of the 230,650 homes with the lowest energy efficiency ratings. 

In the 7th episode in the SJI's Ten Minute Lessons series, Colette Bennett, Research and Policy Analyst, provides an overview of what the Site Value Tax is, how it works and why it is fairer than the current Local Property Tax system.  Tune in on iTunes, Spotify, Podcast Republic or wherever you get your podcasts.  Or download direct from our website.

Community volunteers have rightly been in receipt of high praise for their response to the COVID-19 crisis.  This community spirit is to be commended, however harnessing that engagement for real social change remains a challenge in the context of a highly centralised Government structure. 

As we navigate the crisis caused by COVID-19, it is likely that rural areas will bear a significant social and economic impact over the medium-term, at least. The challenges that faced rural Ireland prior to the current pandemic remain, and new challenges have emerged, not least the impact of a potentially prolonged period of unemployment on areas that were already struggling. In this article, we look at the employment effects of the lockdown by county.

Restructuring agriculture and supporting and incentivising farmers to move to more sustainable agricultural practices is integral to a Just Transition in Ireland.  One of the fundamental principles of a Just Transition is to leave no people, communities, economic sectors or regions behind as we transition to a low carbon future.  A clear pathway for the farming community outlining how they will be supported as part of a Just Transition, and the benefits of sustainable farming practice to our environment, natural capital and to their household incomes is essential.

As we navigate through the global crisis caused by COVID-19, it is clear that rural areas will bear a significant social and economic impact over the long-term.  The challenges that faced rural Ireland prior to the current pandemic such as higher poverty rates, lower incomes, fewer public services remain, and new challenges have emerged, not least the impact of a potentially prolonged period of unemployment on areas that were already struggling.

As we look towards the future and rebuilding our society and our economy the new Government must consider how we can ensure that our recovery package and investment priorities post COVID-19 help us build a sustainable society and economy, and also move us towards a just transition and meeting our climate targets by 2030.

Life on a low income is the norm for a large proportion of our society. Prior to the current public health crisis, one in every seven people in Ireland lived with an income below the poverty line; about 680,000 people. Looking ahead, these numbers look set to rise as the very uneven impact of the Covid-19 crisis unfolds. 

The COVID-19 crisis has changed how we live our lives and, in many ways, served to highlight inefficiencies or flaws in how we have structured our society or how we conduct our business. The pandemic and subsequent lockdown has also caused many of us to re-evaluate our perspectives on how society operates, and given us new found respect for certain professions and industries. Here are some lessons we hope that policymakers have learned from this current situation.

One of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant economic ‘deep freeze’ it has resulted in has been a large reduction in harmful emissions.  This reduction while welcome is only temporary.  The challenge is to ensure that investment in our recovery also supports progress to our climate commitments.

Recent publications

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

Our initial 15-page response to the Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael Framework for a New Programme for Government welcomes some aspects of the plans, raises concerns about others, and proposes a series of specific policy initiatives that would go some distance towards achieving each of the ten mission statements set out in the Framework.

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.

The European Union faces many challenges in relation to healthcare, cost of housing and financial distress that will be further exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.  This is one of the key findings from the National Social Monitor – European Edition.  In this Spring 2020 edition of our National Social Monitor, Social Justice Ireland outlines the present situation on a range of policy issues, comparative to the rest of Europe, that impact on people’s wellbeing and looks at what policies can be introduced to support the most vulnerable.

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.