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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.

COVID-19 is causing people to look at how we have structured our society, and reimagine how things could be. Basic Income and Universal Basic Services are complementary policies, essential to ensuring that everyone in society has sufficient income and sufficient access to public services to live life with dignity and experience living standards expected in a first world country.

A lack of social housing is putting pressure on almost 69,000 households on the official waiting lists, and forcing an additional 40,000-50,000 households into precarious private tenancies and over 10,000 people into homelessness.  Social distancing is difficult for overcrowded households with multiple generations under one roof, and simply impossible for those living in emergency accommodation, Direct Provision and refuges for domestic abuse.  Ireland needs more social housing.  However, the latest data released by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government show a continued reliance on private rented subsidies.

The decision to put a new social contract and a focus on the wellbeing of Irish people at the heart of the Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael Framework for a New Programme for Government is very welcome. So too is the assertion that there is no going back to the old way of doing things. The fact that the framework recognises the need for new, credible, quality-of-life measures of individual and societal wellbeing and progress, suggest that the next Programme for Government will go beyond economic priorities and targets and take a more holistic approach in its decision-making. Such a development would be very welcome.

It is important that the developed world do what it can to assist poorer countries in combatting this crisis. First and foremost, this must involve a deal on current levels of sovereign debt in the Global South. Social Justice Ireland supports the call for the permanent cancellation of all external debt payments due from developing countries in 2020, with no accrual of interest or charges or other penalties, and the provision of additional emergency finance that does not create more debt.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact across all society.  We are all stakeholders in this crisis, and a whole-stakeholder approach to addressing it is urgently required. At a national level a new structure for Social Dialogue is required where issues may be discussed in a deliberative manner. Any proposal for Social Dialogue should involve Government, trade unions and employers, the community and voluntary sector, as well as farmers and environmental groups. Any structure for Social Dialogue that excludes any of these groups would be a recipe for ensuring that most of Ireland’s resources would be captured by those participating in the discussion. Such an approach would simply lead to deepening divisions and growing inequality in Ireland at a time when the needs of society, the economy and the environment require that we come together.

Despite the inevitable economic aftermath of the current pandemic, the Government of the 33rd Dáil can make significant inroads into the challenges Ireland faces over the next five years. The next Programme for Government must deliver on five key areas: a vibrant economy, decent services and infrastructure, just taxation, good governance and sustainability. 

The COVID-19 crisis will impose its heaviest tolls on the most vulnerable. It is understandable that national leaders are focused on tackling this crisis in their own backyards, but countries must find the space for supporting other nations too, if humanity is to successfully defeat this disease. It is therefore incumbent on rich world countries to help poorer countries. It is also in rich countries’ interests to think and act globally as well as locally.

Education systems across the world are being impacted by COVID-19. This disruption will impact the livelihoods of individuals, and the prospects of their communities.  As education systems move to online platforms in the short to medium term, it is vital that all steps are taken to avoid deepening educational and social inequality as a result. 

Today is International Traveller and Roma Day, and just over 3 years since the recognition of Travellers as a distinct ethnic group.

In episode 8 of our interview series, Colette Bennett, Research and Policy Analyst, chats (remotely) with Bernard Joyce, Director of the Irish Traveller Movement about discrimination, health, housing and employment.  While there is a lot of work still to be done, there's reason to be optimistic too, as Bernard highlights how communities are working to keep each other safe.

Listen on iTunes, Spotify, Podcast Republic or wherever you get your podcasts.  Or download straight from our website.

In recent years overall personal indebtedness was replaced in public discourse by a focus on mortgage debt and associated solutions.  However, for thousands of people, both mortgage and non-mortgage debt remain a persistent and pervasive concern.  With an estimated 492,000 people likely to be out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we look at whether Irish households are any better placed to deal with over-indebtedness in 2020 than they were in 2008.