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Public Services

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. 

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.

An outline of the policy challenges relating to Public Services and our proposed policy response is contained in Social Justice Matters: 2019 guide to a Fairer Irish Society.  The chapter is available below.

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.

'Europe: The Excluded Suffer while Europe Stagnates’ is the tenth publication in Social Justice Ireland’s European Research Series.  The report reviews the social situation in the 28 EU member states and makes some proposals and recommendations for a more sustainable and inclusive future.  It analyses performance in areas such as poverty and inequality, employment, access to key public services and taxation.  

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.

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