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Policy issues concerning Public Services

Access to justice is a basic human right, however in order to achieve equality of access, there must be a balance of power on both sides.  In a legal context, the balance of power almost always rests with those who can afford counsel.  Redressing this balance requires the availability of free and low-cost legal services to those who need the advice of a qualified solicitor or barrister but who cannot afford the costs associated with it.    

Libraries provide an important social outlet and educational role in Ireland, with 17.2 million visits recorded in 2016 by 754,748 members across 330 branch libraries and 31 mobile libraries.  Operated by Local Authorities, they play an important role in ensuring access to information, reading and learning material.

Ireland’s social contract is broken.  The legitimate expectations of citizens are not being met.  This is most obvious in areas such as housing and homelessness, a two-tier healthcare system, an ongoing failure to provide rural broadband and high levels of poverty and social exclusion, especially among children.  2017 is the first year of a new century for Ireland and now is the perfect opportunity to develop a new and radical social contract for Ireland’s second century. 

Ireland is making poor progress when ranked against the other 14 countries in the EU-15.  The new Sustainable Progress Index, published  by Social Justice Ireland to mark UN World Social Justice Day, February 20, 2017, shows the scale of the challenge facing Ireland under the headings of economy, society and environment.

Economic recovery has yet to be experienced by large numbers of people in Europe.  Many remain excluded as they continue to lose out in employment, education, healthcare, poverty and related services.  This is undermining the confidence many people had in the European project because they see the EU constantly giving priority to economic issues ahead of social challenges.

Social Justice Ireland was invited to present our analysis of Budget 2017 and recommendations for Budget 2018 to the Oireachtas Committee on Budgetary Oversight.  We were also invited by the Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills to discuss the Expert Group Report 'Investing in National Ambition: A Strategy for Funding Higher Education'.  Our opening statemements to both committees are available to download below.

The focus of the Programme for Government and 32nd Dáil must be on investment in infrastructure and services.  Lack of investment in housing, health, childcare, rural broadband and education threatens economic growth and stability.   The latest research from Social Justice Ireland  in ‘Choices for Equity and Sustainability’ shows that a lack of investment is undermining Ireland’s economic and social stability. 

Education allows people to live a full life and it can be an agent for social transformation.  Education is one of the key policy areas that must be addressed urgently as part of Social Justice Ireland’s Policy Framework for a Just Ireland. A full analysis of the challenges in Education and our policy proposals are contained in our Socio-Economic Review 2015 ‘Towards a Just Society’.  The chapter is available below.

Taxation plays a key role in shaping Irish society through funding public services, supporting economic activity and redistributing resources to enhance the fairness of society.  This forms a core element of Social Justice Ireland’s Policy Framework for a Just Ireland. A full analysis of the challenges and our proposals on Taxation are contained in our Socio-Economic Review 2015 ‘Towards a Just Society’.  The chapter is available below.

The provision of, and access to, a level of public services regarded as acceptable by Irish society generally forms the Decent Services Pillar of Social Justice Ireland’s Policy Framework for a Just Ireland. A full analysis of the challenges and our proposals on Public Services are contained in our Socio-Economic Review 2015 ‘Towards a Just Society’.  The chapter is available below.

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