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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.

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.

COVID-19 will have many implications for Budget 2021.  Not least should be the recognition of the need for a functioning society for all underpinned and supported by a vibrant and sustainable economy.  Last year, New Zealand’s Government launched its first “wellbeing budget”, basing its allocations on wellbeing priorities for its citizens.  Speaking at the launch, the Finance Minister stated: “Success is making New Zealand a great place to make a living and a great place to make a life”.   Could such an approach work for Ireland?  We believe it could, and it seems that the parties discussing the formation of a new Government agree.  Here, we discuss some practical proposals that can be introduced in Budget 2021 that will deliver such a Wellbeing Budget. 

The COVID-19 crisis will impose its heaviest tolls on the most vulnerable, nationally and internationally.  Our recovery must look beyond pure economic growth to a more sustainable society for all.

Social Justice Ireland welcomes the €40 million package of supports for Community and Voluntary Organisations, Charities and Social Enterprises announced by the Minister for Rural and Community Development on the 8th May.  However the funding challenges that the Community and Voluntary Sector has faced since 2008 have never been resolved and will be further exacerbated by the current crisis.  It is essential that Government appropriately resource this sector into the future and that it remains committed to the principle of providing multi-annual statutory funding. 

On Friday, 8th May 2020, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) published the results of its survey on the Social Impact of COVID-19. This, as might be expected, makes for concerning reading.  The self-reported well-being of the population as a result of the COVID-19 crisis was worse than in 2013, at the height of the impact of the 2008 Financial Crash, with just 12.2 per cent reporting a high life satisfaction rating in April 2020, compared to 31.4 per cent in 2013.  The report highlights again the need for a new Social Contract to pave the way for recovery from the impact of COVID-19 and beyond.  The impact of job losses on well-being, social inclusion and financial stress are severe and the changes in consumption, particularly the increases in alcohol and tobacco consumption, indicate a potential personal debt and health crisis that must be tackled if society is to function.  

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