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Ireland’s decision-makers must plan for growth and social inclusion

Ireland needs a combination of vision and pragmatic policies that can truly move the country towards a desirable and sustainable future. The lack of a “guiding vision” in Ireland has led to a lack of coherence at the core of public policy.  The need for long-term planning, a new social contract and a guiding vision to underpin policy were among the issues addressed at Social Justice Ireland's Social Policy Conference 2014.

Social Justice Ireland presented a paper examining the choices Ireland faces and the need for a guiding vision to underpin integrated policy development.  There are many policy areas outside Ireland’s control at the present time. Yet, even within the current macroeconomic restrictions, there are real choices to be made about the appropriate distribution of wealth, power and income in our society.

Government should address five key areas for policy development as follows:

  • Macroeconomic stability, including a stabilisation of Ireland’s debt, increased investment and economic growth;
  • A just taxation system;
  • The strengthening of social services and a commitment to quantitative targets in order to  reduce poverty;
  • The promotion of a deliberative democracy; and
  • Policies that create a sustainable future through balanced regional development and measures to protect the environment

Prof Seán O'Riain presented a paper examined the need for a new social contract and social investment.  Dr Eoin Reeves examined the role of PPP's and whether they are suitable vehicles for delivering the social investment that Ireland needs.  Prof Colin Scott argued the case for a new style of regulation. He noted that a dependence on non-State providers has been and remains a central feature of public service provision and that these agencies have opportunities to challenge and shape government policy through a wide range of mechanisms arising from their informational and publicity roles.

The papers presented at the conference are available here.