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Policy issues concerning Social Justice

The COVID-19 crisis has changed how we live our lives and, in many ways, served to highlight inefficiencies or flaws in how we have structured our society or how we conduct our business. The pandemic and subsequent lockdown has also caused many of us to re-evaluate our perspectives on how society operates, and given us new found respect for certain professions and industries. Here are some lessons we hope that policymakers have learned from this current situation.

Many well-known clothing brands and retailers have responded to the COVID-19 crisis by cancelling orders, or by demanding retroactive price reductions for goods already in production or completed. This is leading to large-scale dismissals of garment workers in developing countries, and to the inability of many companies in these countries to pay their workers. Many of these workers already work for low wages in poor conditions. With little or no social protection, this loss of income leaves garment workers and their families in an incredibly vulnerable position.

Climate change will have the greatest impact on those living in poverty, who have the least capacity to protect themselves.  Yet they are responsible for just a fraction of global emissions.

In episode 8 of our SJI Seminar Series we take a look back to our 30th Annual Social Policy Conference and to the Keynote Address by President Michael D. Higgins.  In this address, President Higgins reflects on the relative positions of the economy and society, and the shape of political discourse. 

17th of October is the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.  In this era of increasing global wealth and economic growth it is important to highlight the large numbers of people living in poverty both here in Ireland and globally.  It is also a day to point to the policy options available that can improve the living conditions for all.  We can and should implement these policies without delay.

Ireland now has the resources to ensure that inequality can be tackled effectively and the linked social injustices of poverty, waiting lists and homelessness can be addressed.  Priority should be given to reducing poverty, tackling the social housing crisis and reforming the healthcare system in both urban and rural Ireland.  Following on from our annual Sustainable Progress Index, Social Justice Ireland has published a 4-page brief on Ireland’s inability to get to grips with inequality.

The consultation on the National Action Plan for Social Inclusion 2018 to 2021 has been released by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection with a closing date of 16th March 2018.  This consultation is open to all, organisations and individuals, and while Social Justice Ireland encourages all to participate, we are concerned that the questions are framed in such a way as to allow Government to abdicate their responsibilities to the most vulnerable.

Ireland can and should play a prominent role in the development of Sustainable Development Goals for the planet in 2015.  Government should also commit to ensuring it reaches the ODA target of 07.% GNP by 2020. A full analysis of the policy challenges and proposals on the Global South are outlined in our Socio-Economic Review 2015 ‘Towards a Just Society’.  The chapter is available below.

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.

Ireland is the fourth most socially unjust of the OECD member countries according to the Bertelsmann Foundation. The study examines social justice as a measure of citizen’s participation in society and the policies of inclusion that a state implements in order to include as many citizens