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Building a Just Society should be at the core of all Government programmes

783 million people live without clean water, 2.5 billion have no adequate sanitation and 1.4 billion people are without access to electricity in our world today.  This is a profoundly unjust situation.  In the EU there are 124.5 million people at risk of poverty or social exclusion.  In Ireland 16% of the population is at risk of poverty and one in every five children lives in a poor household.  On UN World Day for Social Justice (February 20, 2014) it is important to remind ourselves of these facts and of so many more similar facts that show in graphic detail how unjust our world is.

The Trety on European Union  clearly states that the European Union shall promote social justice.  For Social Justice Ireland a just world is one where human rights are respected, human dignity is protected, human development is facilitated and the environment is respected and protected. We are far from seeing the emergence of such a world either in the EU or in the wider world.

Some progress has been made in the Global South since the start of this century with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).  For the most part, however, these goals will not be achieved by the 2015 target date.   A set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are being developed for adoption across the planet for the period after 2015. Such goals are urgently needed and should be applied across the world.

Since the economic crash of 2008 the EU has seen the emergence of worrying trends that combine governance mechanisms that are not transparent with new laws that lock in Austerity for EU citizens while continuing with inadequate regulation of business. The financial sector was the main cause of the crash. However, instead of regulating this sector appropriately, Governments across the EU, including Ireland, are focused on maintaining a situation where the people of the EU will pay for the gambling failures of the financial sector.

The promotion of social justice should be at the heart of every Government programme. This requires that all governments develop policies and laws which recognise economic and social development are two sides of the one coin. We can’t have one without the other and both need to be developed simultaneously and in a sustainable manner.  Without economic growth there won’t be sufficient resources for social development and without investing in good social protection, social inclusion and services there won’t be long-term and stable economic development.

On this World Social Justice Day (February 20, 2014) Social Justice Ireland calls on policy-makers and decision-makers at home and across the EU to tackle child and family poverty and social exclusion as a matter of high priority and to ensure that the promotion of social justice is a part of every programme they deliver. Candidates and political parties in the coming European Parliament elections should also address this topic as the future of the European Social Model is at risk if the lop-sided development that appears to be the dominant approach at present is maintained in the years ahead.

The full text of the Briefing supplied to the Committee by Social Justice Ireland may be accessed here.