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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.

In 2016 President Michael D.Higgins spoke of the importance of embracing mulitculturalism when he said "Difference is a resource.  Difference is richness.  That is the Ireland that is unfolding before us and I welcome it.".  With those words, the President laid down a marker to view diversity as a benefit, rather than a drain, enriching all of society.  The rise in populism and anti-immigrant sentiment is a danger to society and democracy.  It polarises communities and incites hatred, and in some cases, violence.  Ireland needs to take a whole of society and policy approach to embrace multiculturalism for the benefit of all.

Work and a job are not always the same thing.  Work is far more than just paid employment, and with this in mind it is time to develop policies that ensure all forms of work are supported, valued and recognised.

In 2017, the Government introduced Family Hubs as an alternative to hotels and B&Bs and described as a “first step” for families experiencing homelessness.  Later that year, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) warned of the risks associated with Family Hubs, of institutionalising families and normalising family homelessness.  This warning was ignored, with Minister Murphy urging local authorities to build more rapid build Family Hubs at the Second Housing Summit in January 2018, and increased funding for Family Hubs provided in Budget 2019. 

A report published by the Office of the Children’s Ombudsman (OCO) this week (18 April 2019) shows just how prescient IHREC’s warnings were, as children as young as 10 describe their living conditions as being “like a prison”.

In our Poverty Focus published this week, Social Justice Ireland looked at the impact of poverty, in particular child and family poverty.  Over 230,000 children are living at risk of poverty in Ireland today.  Studies undertaken since the mid-1990s indicate that the prevalence of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) has a direct relationship on the causes of death and chronic health issues in adults, with some evidence suggesting it alters a child’s DNA if not addressed in time.  While child poverty is not of itself an ACE, there is a correlation between poverty and ACEs which, if ignored, can affect a child’s whole life.

Living in poverty is a reality for one in five children in Ireland.  This means that around 230,000 children in Ireland are living in families with incomes below the poverty line.  This is one of the main findings from Poverty Focus 2019.  How long more can we afford to ignore these children and their living standards?  This issue can be addressed effectively.  Child poverty can be eliminated.

Recent moves on Ireland's ODA allocation have been positive, but a strategy to bring us to the UN-agreed target of 0.7 per cent of national income is still missing.

There are over 67,000 tenants paying market rent spending more than 40% of their disposable income on housing costs.  Clearly more affordable, sustainable housing is needed. When added to the almost 72,000 households on the social housing waiting list, and the 54,000 households in receipt of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP), the true scale of the housing crisis becomes clear.

The headline social inclusion targets addressed in the Irish National Reform Programme are focussed on employment, education and ‘poverty and social exclusion’.  How is Ireland performing on the social inclusion aspects of our National Reform Programme and our Europe 2020 targets?

According to the latest data released by the Central Bank of Ireland (the Central Bank), non-bank entities held 84,658 home mortgages up to the end of 2018, of which 25,469 are held by unregulated loan owners.  While a larger percentage of these loans are in late stage mortgage arrears than those held by banks, an increasing proportion are not in arrears.  Borrowers who made the decision to enter into one of the most major contracts of their lives, the mortgage on their home, may not be aware of who owns that mortgage and what, if any, protections they have if they get into difficulty making payments.  The Oireachtas is currently considering the No Consent, No Sale Bill 2019 which aims to curb mortgage transfers without the consent of the borrower, with some saying it’s a step too far and will damage the banking industry.  But what about the borrowers?  In terms of consumer protection, does it go far enough?

Ireland has agreed to produce an indicator of persistent poverty, measuring the proportion of the poulation those living below the poverty line in three of the last four years. These measures have yet to materialise, depriving us of the information that should be used as the primary basis for setting poverty targets and monitoring changes in poverty status.