Analysis & Comment

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) today published data in respect of the Live Register showing a combined total of 513,350 for those on the Live Register and those in receipt of COVID-19 Related Payments.  While over half of these people are in receipt of the COVID-19 payments, there is a significant rise in those on the Live Register (and not in receipt of a COVID-19 Related Payment) for less than one year.  This highlights the need to provide Decent Work as a key tenet of any new Social Contract and the need to recognise that the term "work" is not synonymous with a job.

This week, the National Economic & Social Council (NESC) published its report on Addressing Employment Vulnerability as part of a Just Transition in Ireland.  With the loss of an estimated 350,000 jobs, the COVID-19 pandemic underscored the impact, social and economic, of job precarity.  This report, drafted in response to the need to transition to a fundamentally new economic future associated with the challenges of climate change and digital automation, is also instructive as we face a new reality post-coronavirus.  When this crisis passes we will need to develop a new social contract and engage in social dialogue to allow all stakeholders to have a say in shaping that contract.

Ireland and much of the rest of the world is facing into a major economic recession as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The circumstances and causes of this recession are very different from those that caused the recession in 2008/2009, but there are still lessons that can and should be learned. One of those lessons relates to government’s fiscal response. Faced with a recession that will exceed any in living memory, government must act on a scale that exceeds anything implemented during the financial crisis of a decade ago.

The impact of COVID-19, the coronavirus, has highlighted the weaknesses in both Ireland’s social and economic structures. One such area is housing, particularly for those in communal and cramped accommodation who cannot social distance, self-isolate or, in some cases, avail of adequate washing facilities.  In the latest episode of our podcast, Social Justice Matters, we chat (remotely) to Orla Hegarty, Architect and Lecturer in the School of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy in UCD, to discuss housing policy, construction safety and COVID-19, and the lessons to be learned for housing from this crisis.

In this time of unprecedented crisis, the European Union must heed the lessons from the financial crash of 2008 and take substantial and coordinated action now.  Failure to act quickly, decisively and appropriately will have devastating consequences.

The most pressing piece of health advice, apart from washing your hands, to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic is the need for social distancing.  But for thousands of people living in emergency homeless accommodation, Direct Provision, refuges and Travellers living in cramped conditions, social distancing just isn’t an option.  The announcement yesterday of 650 spaces being made available is a welcome step, but doesn’t go nearly far enough.  There are over 245,000 vacant properties across Ireland.  Property website Daft.ie reported a 13% increase in rental advertisements this month.  Now is the time to utilise emergency powers and #MoveTheVulnerableOut.

The coronavirus pandemic is arguably the greatest crisis the world has faced in living memory. It has implications for several areas of policy, not the least of which is the economy. In the latest episode of our podcast, Social Justice Matters, we talk to Dr. Tom McDonnell, co-Director of the Nevin Economic Research Institute, about the Irish government’s response to COVID-19, what else might be needed to ensure a robust recovery when this pandemic subsides, and the lessons to be learned from this crisis.

As we face into the most difficult and challenging times most of us have ever known, it is important to acknowledge that despite well documented problems and challenges, Ireland is in the privileged position of having public services and social infrastructure to rely on at a time of crisis.  In the coming months, when we begin to think of the future beyond the current crisis, we need to consider how we can deliver a social contract to meet our needs in changing times?

The Government has produced an Action Plan for Community Response to COVID-19 providing supports for Community and Voluntary organisations as they meet the challenge of supporting the most vulnerable.

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.  Ireland and the EU urgently need to develop substantial coordinated actions on these issues.  ​

Recent publications

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.

Social justice matters. That is why Social Justice Ireland publishes our annual socio-economic review. This book is about charting a course to a fairer Ireland. Social Justice Matters 2020 provides an analysis of the present situation on a wide range of issues and identifies a programme of initiatives and policies that can address our challenges in an integrated and sustainable manner.

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.

Measuring Progress: Sustainable Progress Index 2020 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, Dr. Catherine Kavanagh of UCC, and Niamh Lenihan of CIT, 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. 

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.

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.

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.