Analysis & Comment

By the end of 2018 there were 6,252 applicants for International Protection living in Direct Provision centres across the State, with centres reaching almost full capacity by December 2018. Since 2002, occupancy has consistently been over 70 per cent of capacity in Ireland’s reception centres. Numerous reports have called for an end to the current system of Direct Provision in Ireland. This must begin with Budget 2021.


Investment in children and families is an essential investment in our social and human capital now and into the future.  Here we outline investment priorities for children and families for Budget 2021.

As the first Budget of the Government of the 33rd Dáil approaches in October, it is interesting and instructive to analyse the distributional impact of tax and benefit changes that were implemented by the government of the last Dáil in the government's annual budget. Herein, we analyse the effects of the four budgets on households across Irish society.

Ireland has an increasingly ageing population and it is imperative, both from the perspective of the individual and the supporting structures, that ageing in place becomes the default approach.

One of the objectives of Budget 2021 must be to support demand through Government capital expenditure.  In order to support investment and recovery, it is important that this capital spending is sustainable.  


Government should increase in core social welfare rates of €7 per week in Budget 2021 and set a three-year target for Government to reach the benchmark of 27.5 per cent of average earnings.  In the forthcoming Budget Government should also complete the equalisation of Jobseeker’s rates for young people under 26, introduce a cost of disability allowance and introduce a universal state pension.

People should be assured of the required treatment and healthcare in their times of illness and vulnerability. The standard of care available is dependent to a great degree on the resources made available, which in turn are dependent on the expectations of society. Covid-19 put an unprecedented strain on our healthcare system, however the systemic issues and overreliance on acute services which dominated the Irish healthcare infrastructure pre-Covid only served to exacerbate the problem.

As we navigate through the global crisis caused by Covid-19, it is clear that our communities, rural areas and regions will bear a significant social and economic impact over the long-term.  Here we outline rural and regional investment priorities for Budget 2021.

The effects of COVID-19 will take the heaviest toll on the most vulnerable, both nationally and internationally.  The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - a series of 17 high level goals based on 169 targets and over 230 indicators can provide a framework to refocus efforts towards policies to directly help people and communities in the long run and to provide a pathway out of poverty.  In our latest policy briefing, we look at Ireland's progress towards the SDGs and provide a series of policy recommendations to improve it.

The provision of adequate and appropriate accommodation should be a key element of a new Social Contract. Here we look at how Budget 2021 could begin the process of a new, sustainable, housing strategy.

Recent publications

The July Jobs Stimulus contains some welcome elements which have the potential to support businesses, particularly small and medium enterprises, to absorb the economic impact of Covid-19. However, it remains to be seen if the package is of the scale required to begin the process of real economic recovery for the many businesses impacted, to alleviate the financial hardship of households on reduced incomes and to secure medium-to-long-term societal wellbeing. Read our full analysis here.

The primary focus of Budget 2021 and 2022 should be on increasing employment and delivering infrastructure and services, NOT on reducing the deficit; it is crucially important that we do not repeat the mistakes made following the last crash.

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.

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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.