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Public Policy

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted inequalities in society in both health and socio-economic terms. Health inequalities exposed other inequalities as links between those deemed most likely to contract the virus and groups such as those in overcrowed conditions, elderly and/or vulnerable people became more and more visible. These inequalities have meant that for some, coping with the changes brought about by the pandemic, has been very difficult. The community and voluntary sector supported these vulnerable members of society. They worked together with State bodies to bring supports to those in need, while helping to inform policy on protecting the most vulnerable at national level. They must continue to be supported as long as these inequalities exist and be supported to plan for the future.


The National Economic and Social Council (NESC) have published a review of Community Call, the programme which delivered co-ordinated support to vulnerable people remaining at home during Covid-19 lockdowns.  Community Call is an experiment in partnership between national and local government, and the community and voluntary sector.  It delivered the state organised and community-based support programme for those aged over 70 and the medically vulnerable during Covid-19. 


Ireland is among the signatories of the recent Joint Declaration by the Ministers of the EPSCO Council ‘Overcoming poverty and social exclusion – mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on families – working together to develop prospects for strong children’. If Government is truly committed to the stated objectives of the joint declaration then significant resources and serious political and policy commitment to addressing child and family poverty are required.


The Department of Finance recently published an update to Ireland’s Corporation Tax Roadmap.  The update reaffirms Ireland’s commitment to a multilateral approach via the OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework to address the tax challenges posed by the digitalisation of the economy.  It also contains a welcome recognition that a multilateral approach will require compromises and trade-offs.  A minimum effective corporate tax rate must be a policy instrument for consideration in light of the ever-changing global context and our commitment to the OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework. 


The CSO recently published the Irish Health Survey 2019.  Among the main findings of the survey are that a quarter of persons report having a long-lasting health condition, over a fifth (21%) of unemployed persons report some form of depression compared to 9% of employed people, 82% of females visited a GP in the previous 12 months compared to 68% of males and more than one in two people (56%) report they are overweight or obese. 


At the European level, what the pandemic has cast doubt on is the very fundamentals of European integration. The main features of the European Union, what could be described as its “pillars”, are these: the single market and freedom of movement, the euro and the Stability and Growth Pact, and competition and state-aid law. We can already look ahead and see that the post-crisis EU could be standing on very different foundations if the questioning of the three basic pillars continues over time or, conversely, it could just as easily go back to its old ways.  What will the world environment in which this happens be, though? Here there are four possible scenarios emerging.

'Building a New Social Contract – Policy Recommendations’ contains more than eighty specific policy recommendations that would go a considerable direction towards a new social contract to improve the quality of life and wellbeing of everyone and ensure that a no-one is left behind as our economy and society recovers from the impact of Covid-19.

How normal was the world before Covid-19? The last decade has been anything but normal – whether viewed at national or European level, or in broader geopolitical terms.  We, as a planet, face a choice between attempting to develop responses cognitively through a new dialogue, political and social, or simply marching on, brainless, based on some notion of the old normal.


Social fairness and solidarity are more important than ever in the European Union if it is to meet the challenges of demographic ageing, climate change and digitalisation and deal with the aftermath of Covid-19.  This is according to the latest 'Employment and Social Developments in Europe Report ‘Fairness and Solidarity in the European Social Market Economy’. 

The National Economic Plan - to be published on Budget day - must give equal weight to environmental, social and economic considerations. Otherwise, this Government will simply repeat the mistakes of the past and many will be left behind.  The National Economic Plan must be underpinned by a new social contract that treats our environment, society and economy equally

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