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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.

Last week, the CSO published the Live Register data, showing 513,350 people in receipt of some form of welfare support.  An estimated 492,000 workers in Ireland may lose thier jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic alone.  Approximately one in five of all employed.  The worst affected sectors are retail, hospitality, recreation, non-essential manufacturing and construction sectors.  Many of these jobs are defined by instances of low-pay and precarity.  Short-term income supports are welcome as we get through this crisis, however long-term measures are required to sustain these sectors.

COVID-19 is placing unprecedented pressure on our healthcare system.  The emergency measures implemented to date are welcome and necessary.  However in the medium and long term we must address the issues of bed capacity, lack of step down care facilities and the need to broaden access to community care so that our acute hospital system is better placed to deal with any future shock.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) today published data in respect of the Live Register showing a combined total of 513,350 for those on the Live Register and those in receipt of COVID-19 Related Payments.  While over half of these people are in receipt of the COVID-19 payments, there is a significant rise in those on the Live Register (and not in receipt of a COVID-19 Related Payment) for less than one year.  This highlights the need to provide Decent Work as a key tenet of any new Social Contract and the need to recognise that the term "work" is not synonymous with a job.

Ireland and much of the rest of the world is facing into a major economic recession as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The circumstances and causes of this recession are very different from those that caused the recession in 2008/2009, but there are still lessons that can and should be learned. One of those lessons relates to government’s fiscal response. Faced with a recession that will exceed any in living memory, government must act on a scale that exceeds anything implemented during the financial crisis of a decade ago.

In this time of unprecedented crisis, the European Union must heed the lessons from the financial crash of 2008 and take substantial and coordinated action now.  Failure to act quickly, decisively and appropriately will have devastating consequences.

The most pressing piece of health advice, apart from washing your hands, to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic is the need for social distancing.  But for thousands of people living in emergency homeless accommodation, Direct Provision, refuges and Travellers living in cramped conditions, social distancing just isn’t an option.  The announcement yesterday of 650 spaces being made available is a welcome step, but doesn’t go nearly far enough.  There are over 245,000 vacant properties across Ireland.  Property website Daft.ie reported a 13% increase in rental advertisements this month.  Now is the time to utilise emergency powers and #MoveTheVulnerableOut.

The coronavirus pandemic is arguably the greatest crisis the world has faced in living memory. It has implications for several areas of policy, not the least of which is the economy. In the latest episode of our podcast, Social Justice Matters, we talk to Dr. Tom McDonnell, co-Director of the Nevin Economic Research Institute, about the Irish government’s response to COVID-19, what else might be needed to ensure a robust recovery when this pandemic subsides, and the lessons to be learned from this crisis.

As we face into the most difficult and challenging times most of us have ever known, it is important to acknowledge that despite well documented problems and challenges, Ireland is in the privileged position of having public services and social infrastructure to rely on at a time of crisis.  In the coming months, when we begin to think of the future beyond the current crisis, we need to consider how we can deliver a social contract to meet our needs in changing times?

The Government has produced an Action Plan for Community Response to COVID-19 providing supports for Community and Voluntary organisations as they meet the challenge of supporting the most vulnerable.

The European Union faces many challenges in relation to healthcare, cost of housing and financial distress that will be further exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.  Ireland and the EU urgently need to develop substantial coordinated actions on these issues.  ​

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