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Policy issues concerning Government


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.

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.

Government should strive to create a new economic model based on fairness.   This would ensure that the benefits accruing from a vibrant economy would be distributed in a more equal manner.  Addressing poverty and social exclusion will play a key role in this regard.  The new Government should set an ambitious national poverty reduction target and make persistent poverty the primary indicator of poverty measurement.

A vibrant economy is most important if Ireland is to produce a fairer future for all.  To secure such a future requires us to learn from our mistakes in the past.   Solid policies are required that secure the best future for all. 

Community volunteers have rightly been in receipt of high praise for their response to the COVID-19 crisis.  This community spirit is to be commended, however harnessing that engagement for real social change remains a challenge in the context of a highly centralised Government structure. 

One of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant economic ‘deep freeze’ it has resulted in has been a large reduction in harmful emissions.  This reduction while welcome is only temporary.  The challenge is to ensure that investment in our recovery also supports progress to our climate commitments.

To unravel the two-tier welfare system that has been temporarily created as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, and to truly deliver a fair and sustainable economy the new Government should develop a programme to index social welfare rates to the Minimum Essential Standard of Living over a five-year term. 

It is clear that tax policy will play a vital role both in the immediate Government response to support people and businesses, and in rebuilding our society and economy once the worst of the health impacts are contained.  The new Government has an opportunity to reform and broaden our tax base and lay the foundations to increase our total tax take now to ensure we are well prepared to meet any future shocks.  We have a once in a generation opportunity to build a new society, a new economy and a new country that reflects the lessons we have learned in recent weeks. 

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.

If a country is setting social, economic and environmental goals, it is important that taxation policy supports these goals. Ireland needs to have a real debate, not just about the levels of services and infrastructure it wishes to have in the coming decades, but also how these are to be financed. Just Taxation is one of the five key priority areas examined in Social Justice Matters: 2020 guide to a fairer Ireland. This report analyses ‘Just Taxation’ as one of five key priority areas required to build a fairer Ireland in an integrated and sustainable manner. 

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