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In this edition of our National Social Monitor, Social Justice Ireland looks at the budgets of each of the 31 Local Authorities and analyses where the money was spent, and where it wasn’t, to assess the priorities of local government. 

In 2016 President Michael D.Higgins spoke of the importance of embracing mulitculturalism when he said "Difference is a resource.  Difference is richness.  That is the Ireland that is unfolding before us and I welcome it.".  With those words, the President laid down a marker to view diversity as a benefit, rather than a drain, enriching all of society.  The rise in populism and anti-immigrant sentiment is a danger to society and democracy.  It polarises communities and incites hatred, and in some cases, violence.  Ireland needs to take a whole of society and policy approach to embrace multiculturalism for the benefit of all.

What are the latest data and trends on poverty in Ireland and why is life on a low income the norm for a large proportion of our society?  Social Justice Ireland’s annual Poverty Focus examines the nature and experience of poverty in Ireland and sets out a series of policy solutions. 

Support for people to remain in their own homes is a key and appropriate policy objective and coincides with the wishes of most older people. A key component of this is a statutory basis for home care packages.

Current welfare systems were not designed to adapt to the challenges presented by automation and globalisation and are not fit for purpose. That's the view of a new paper from the Adam Smith Institute in the UK published to coincide with the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos this week. The institute argues that governments should look to Universal Basic Income (UBI) experiments around the world as they seek to address the risks posed by large-scale changes to the labour market while retaining the benefits of trade and technological progress.

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. 

The executive summary of Social Justice Ireland's Socio-Economic Review 2017 'A New Social Contract for a New Century' is available below.

Europe: A Union for the Powerless as well as the Powerful? Review of the Social Situation in Europe and Considerations for a More Sustainable and Inclusive Future is the fourth report in Social Justice Ireland's European Research Series. This report adresses a series of key issues including unemployment, social investment, taxation and poverty and social exclusion across the EU 28 member states.  The report identifies key trends and makes policy proposals in key areas.

Social Justice Ireland and the Irish Heart Foundation completed in-depth review of evidence on obesity and food poverty in Ireland in June 2015.  This report examines the future health costs of obesity and food poverty and makes a proposal for health related taxation as a policy instrument to address the challenge Ireland faces.

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