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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.

As we look towards the future and rebuilding our society and our economy we have the opportunity to ensure that our investment strategy reduces carbon emissions, creates a vibrant society and economy, and supports a just transition. Here we outline investment priorities for Budget 2021.

Though Ireland faces a number of significant challenges, it is important to remember that hundreds of millions of people in much poorer countries face a far worse situation. Budget 2021 should at least maintain the nominal financial amount of overseas aid, and - given the inevitable fall in GNI* - could even be used as an opportunity to make inroads on Ireland's UN target.


The cuts to funding for the Community and Voluntary sector made during the last recession have yet to be restored. Covid-19 has again highlighted the importance of communities. This support must now be formally recognised in Budget 2021 with investment in programmes that support community engagement; deal with deficit demand; tackle social exclusion; and sustain communities.


Education is widely recognised as crucial to the achievement of our national objectives of economic competitiveness, social inclusion, and active citizenship.  However, the levels of public funding for education in Ireland are out of step with these aspirations. Here we outline priority areas for investment in education in Budget 2021.  

A new report from the Occupational Pensions Stakeholder Group (OPSG) provides an excellent analysis of the gender gap in pensions and provides advice on practices to reduce it. However, a universal state social welfare pension, with entitlement no longer based around labour market connectivity, would be the biggest step towards gender pension equality.

The primary focus of Budget 2021 and 2022 should be on increasing employment and delivering infrastructure and services, NOT on reducing the deficit; it is crucially important that we do not repeat the mistakes made following the last crash. The new Government should outline a three-year stabilisation programme targeted at supporting incomes, restoring domestic demand, and sustaining strategic firms and institutions.  This will require a change to Ireland’s fiscal stance in the years immediately ahead.

It is concerning the new Programme for Government does not mention youth unemployment or a strategy to tackle it, particularly given the manner in which young people will likely be disproportionately affected by unemployment as the economy recovers from Covid-19. 

Over one million people were in receipt of  COVID-19-related income supports as of May this year.  584,641 were in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) and 473,500 people had availed of the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS).  These numbers have been decreasing as the economy slowly starts to open again, those who needed to avail of loan repayment breaks and rent freezes will face likely financial distress.

The current State Pension system deprives many people who have spent their lives in caring roles of financial security in their old age. These are people society should be rewarding, not penalising. With the new Programme for Government committing to the proposed Auto Enrolment Plan, an opportunity to increase the fairness of the Irish pension system is being missed, and at a substantial financial cost.

A robust Social Dialogue process with the broad-based enhancement of capabilities in the economy and society at its core would assist in driving a sustainable recovery from the current crisis that will boost business development, improve wellbeing and invest in the future of citizens and communities.

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