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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.

The COVID-19 crisis highlighted, among other things, the importance of community and a community-based response.  Yet this importance is often not reflected in the decision-making processes that affect those communities.  While the draft Programme for Government makes welcome reference to Social Dialogue at national level, there is a role for local level Social Dialogue also.

The commitment to using wellbeing indicators alongside economic indicators in the Programme for Government is welcome.  Creating a sustainable Ireland requires the adoption of new indicators to measure progress. To reflect this, the wellbeing indicators that the new Government has committed to developing must include new indicators measuring both wellbeing and sustainability in society, to be used alongside measures of national income like GDP, GNP and GNI.

The most competitive economies of Europe all collect substantially more tax than Ireland does. The evidence suggests that a low tax, low service strategy for attracting investment is short-sighted and that quality education, infrastructure and services are far more important.


A sustainable environment, a sustainable society and a sustainable economy require thriving communities across the entire country, but especially in rural areas.  It requires leadership and commitment on the policies required to move to a low carbon future, and also requires that we measure what counts.

Budget 2021 should include a tax on windfall gains from the re-zoning of agricultural land. This money should be made available to local authorities and used to address the ongoing housing problems they face.

Ireland generally does a poor job of taxing land and property. Our inefficient Local Property Tax is a perfect example of this. A Site Value Tax would be a fairer and more efficient way to generate revenue, and it would also incentivise better use of land.

Making the two main income tax credits refundable would provide Government with an efficient mechanism by which it can address the issue of the working poor. Specific interventions are required to tackle the problem of in-work poverty and Refundable Tax Credits must be a part of the plan.


Over ten years on from the financial crash, and after six years of economic growth, before the onset of Covid-19, across the European Union there were 16.8 million people unemployed, 6.65 million people long-term unemployed, and 86 million people living in poverty of whom 19 million were children.  This presents significant challenges as Europe grapples with the social and economic consequences of the current crisis.

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.

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