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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.

Pension-related tax reliefs are an expensive means of subsidising retirement savings for the better off, with little financial benefit to the State. The current system has a very high fiscal cost, yet is currently failing to meet its targets in relation to coverage and income adequacy. In this article, we show that the arguments in favour of continuing this perverse incentive system do not stack up. There is no fiscal benefit to the exchequer in either the short or the long term.

The Department of Rural and Community Development last week launched a public consultation (primarily aimed at people living and working in rural Ireland) on the development of Rural Policy.  This coincides with the end of the Action Plan for Rural Development, which launched in January 2017 and ends at the end of this year.  The online survey is open until the 11th October.  Addressing the many issues with rural development is a key policy area for Social Justice Ireland.  Check out some of our recent work in this area to support you to have your say.

International Literacy Day gives us the opportunity to remember the importance of literacy, to celebrate the progress we have made, and a chance to reinvigorate efforts to address the literacy challenges that we still face.

Behind the headline jobs numbers, trends in Ireland's labour force participation tell some interesting stories.

As we watch the political chaos unfold across the Irish Sea, we must acknowledge the need to learn the lessons of Brexit. Many of those who voted for Brexit voted against their own economic interest. This points to a disillusionment with politics and with social and economic policies. Among the lessons to be learned from Brexit are the need for the EU to represent something positive in the eyes of ordinary people. Implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights would go a long way to making sure that this does not happen again in other countries.

Ireland has signed up to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 and is committed to legally binding climate commitments in 2020 and 2030.  We have a national commitment to be carbon neutral by 2050 yet we spend up to €4 billion every year on potentially environmentally damaging subsidies.

Under-employment remains high at 113,000. This spare economic capacity might, at a practical level, mean that thousands are struggling financially. It also suggests that we are further from full employment than first glances at headline numbers would have us believe. These people could, along with some other categories, conceivably swell true unemployment numbers by more than 180%.

The most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report on Climate Change and Land raises some significant issues for Ireland, and in particular our policies on food production and land management.

The ongoing confusion regarding the funding of applications to the SEAI Deep Retrofitting pilot is disappointing, particularly as one of the headline policies in the Climate Action Plan 2019 to ensure Ireland transitions to a low carbon future is increased retrofitting.  Will Budget 2020 deliver the resources required to establish a comprehensive and ambitious retrofitting programme?

A sustainable economy would involve transformative change and policies. The ‘circular economy’ theory is based on the understanding that it is the reuse of vast amounts of material reclaimed from end of life products, rather than the extraction of new resources, that is the foundation of economic growth.  In July 2019, the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation launched its paper – Realising the opportunities for enterprise in the bioeconomy and circular economy in Ireland, which considers the impact of transitioning to more sustainable practices to provide solutions to ‘issues ranging from climate change, to pollution, to economic and regional development’.

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