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Policy Issues Home

A wide range of material on many policy issues is available on this page.  This includes both material and commentary from Social Justice Ireland and material from other sources.  The policy issues are listed alphabetically in the menu on this page.

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.  ​

Irish workers experience one of the highest proportions of low pay in the OECD. Ireland's rate is more than 5 times higher than that of Belgium, the best performer, and only the United States has a worse instance of low paid employment.

Additional supply of affordable homes is a key part of addressing the housing crisis, but what of those in precarious housing situations?  In this article we look at those on the social housing waiting lists and those in mortgage difficulty.

Ireland has the fourth lowest early school leaving rate in the European Union at five per cent and we are ranked second in the European Union for the percentage of people aged 20-24 with at least upper-second level education at 94 per cent.  This downward trend of early school leaving is a welcome development. Despite the progress made on early school leaving the poor labour market status of early school leavers points to the need for a continued focus on this cohort and on addressing educational disadvantage.  

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