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Social Contract

It is clear that tax policy will play a vital role both in the immediate Government response to support people and businesses, and in rebuilding our society and economy once the worst of the health impacts are contained.  The new Government has an opportunity to reform and broaden our tax base and lay the foundations to increase our total tax take now to ensure we are well prepared to meet any future shocks.  We have a once in a generation opportunity to build a new society, a new economy and a new country that reflects the lessons we have learned in recent weeks. 

The decision to put a new social contract and a focus on the wellbeing of Irish people at the heart of the Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael Framework for a New Programme for Government is very welcome. So too is the assertion that there is no going back to the old way of doing things. The fact that the framework recognises the need for new, credible, quality-of-life measures of individual and societal wellbeing and progress, suggest that the next Programme for Government will go beyond economic priorities and targets and take a more holistic approach in its decision-making. Such a development would be very welcome.

Our initial 15-page response to the Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael Framework for a New Programme for Government welcomes some aspects of the plans, raises concerns about others, and proposes a series of specific policy initiatives that would go some distance towards achieving each of the ten mission statements set out in the Framework.

As we face into the most difficult and challenging times most of us have ever known, it is important to acknowledge that despite well documented problems and challenges, Ireland is in the privileged position of having public services and social infrastructure to rely on at a time of crisis.  In the coming months, when we begin to think of the future beyond the current crisis, we need to consider how we can deliver a social contract to meet our needs in changing times?

The negative impact on rural towns and communities from the potential fallout from Brexit is receiving welcome attention at present.  But what about the other threat to rural Ireland and regional development - the impact that automation and robotics will have on employment across the regions?  This issue should be front and centre as Government rolls out the Climate Action Plan and the National Development Plan.

The local and European elections threw up a variety of diverse issues many of which seem to be at odds with each other.  Concerns among voters about the impact of climate change and about the future of agriculture and livelihood of farmers may seem incompatible at first glance, but yet they are both very important issues to different sectors of society.  What these elections remind us is that a comprehensive policy framework is required to make progress on these issues and deliver a better future for everyone.

The Government’s new Pensions plan has missed the opportunity to provide a Universal Pension as a basic right to all citizens. It has also failed to address major issues around equity, sustainability and bureaucracy that have underpinned Ireland’s pension system for generations. Read Social Justice Ireland's new report: A Universal State Social Welfare Pension.

Social Justice Ireland were honoured to have President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins deliver the key note address at our 30th Annual Social Policy Conference. Click here to watch the video of his presentation, or download his paper, entitled On The Discourse That We Need.

This year's conference featured an excellent and diverse line-up of speakers from Spain, Italy, Germany, the USA, and Ireland. The key note address was delivered by President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins. Click in to download papers from the conference, watch the presentations, see our handy summary graphics, or download the entire conference booklet for free.