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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.

Despite the enormous cost to the exchequer of tax reliefs/expenditures (in 2016 tax reliefs amounted to approximately 10 per cent of total tax revenue) they are not subject to annual assessment as part of the budgetary process. It is extraordinary that this is the case, and Social Justice Ireland believes that reform should be a key part of the next Programme for Government, and of Budget 2021.

An open and transparent policy evaluation process, with meaningful engagement from all stakeholders, would ensure that we learn from our successes and from our mistakes. Such a process would ensure that we evaluate both and offer a framework to take our policy successes and replicate them across Government.  Social Justice Ireland believes strongly in the importance of developing a rights-based approach to social, economic, and cultural policy.  A key policy measure to deliver an open and transparent policy evaluation process is to measure the socio-economic impact of each budget.  This should be a statutory responsibility for Government.

As housing policy continues on an increasingly private pathway, more of us are accommodated through the private rented sector.  We need to redesign this sector to reflect its increasing use a tenure of choice and necessity to protect the rights of tenants and to make it more affordable.  We need to uncouple our basic housing need from the boom-bust cycle of the property market.  One mechanism to address affordability is to introduce a cost rental system to scale.

According to the Social Housing Needs Assessments 2019, published in December 2019, there were 68,693 households on the waiting list for social housing, presenting as a decrease of 4.4 per cent on the previous year.  However, the truth is that the housing crisis is worsening as Government continues to look to the private sector for solutions. Time to set a new social housing target of 20 per cent of all housing stock.

Government should strive to create a new economic model based on fairness.   This would ensure that the benefits accruing from a vibrant economy would be distributed in a more equal manner.  Addressing poverty and social exclusion will play a key role in this regard.  The new Government should set an ambitious national poverty reduction target and make persistent poverty the primary indicator of poverty measurement.

A vibrant economy is most important if Ireland is to produce a fairer future for all.  To secure such a future requires us to learn from our mistakes in the past.   Solid policies are required that secure the best future for all. 

Housing in Ireland has been mired in controversy for decades – from tenement slums to planning irregularities, and from substandard housing to the institutionalisation of households in emergency accommodation and Direct Provision.  Social Justice Ireland has previously advocated for a 5-Pillar Framework for a new Social Contract.  These Pillars are a Vibrant Economy; Decent Services and Infrastructure; Just Taxation; Good Governance; and Sustainability.  In this article, we explore what those five Pillars might contain in the context of housing, as an example.

Community volunteers have rightly been in receipt of high praise for their response to the COVID-19 crisis.  This community spirit is to be commended, however harnessing that engagement for real social change remains a challenge in the context of a highly centralised Government structure. 

As we navigate the crisis caused by COVID-19, it is likely that rural areas will bear a significant social and economic impact over the medium-term, at least. The challenges that faced rural Ireland prior to the current pandemic remain, and new challenges have emerged, not least the impact of a potentially prolonged period of unemployment on areas that were already struggling. In this article, we look at the employment effects of the lockdown by county.

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.

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