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Social Contract


If Ireland is to succeed in addressing the challenges we are faced with, the pathway to doing so must be founded on consensus, must be well-managed, and must be properly evaluated.  A deliberative decision-making process, involving all stakeholders and founded on reasoned, evidence-based debate is required. 

On Wednesday, 18th November 2020, Social Justice Ireland held our Annual Social Policy Conference by webinar. This year's theme was 'A New Social Contract, A New Social Dialogue: Building a Better Future'. In case you missed it (or you'd like to revisit the presentations), the videos, papers and graphic reports are all available now.


Covid-19 has caused us to think about many things that previously we may never really have considered: the importance of good public services; the need for a social security system that provides real security in the face of sickness and unemployment; and about concepts such as inter-dependence and solidarity.  It has led us to reassess what we mean by ‘essentially work’; who really are the ‘essential workers’; and is it right that many of them are treated the way they are.  And it has fundamentally changed the relationship between business and the state.


As societies and economies across the globe respond to the Covid pandemic, Ireland has the opportunity to execute a strategy which can address the major structural challenges from both the present and pastand set out a strategy and a blueprint for a better Ireland.


Covid-19 has highlighted things that are profoundly amiss with our Social Contract.  Once the pandemic has been addressed successfully it is crucial that we face up to the radical reforms that are required if we are to deliver a new social contract based on the principles of justice and fairness, with sustainability at its core.

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.

On Wednesday, 18th November 2020 Social Justice Ireland held its Annual Social Policy Conference entitled A New Social Contract, A New Social Dialogue: Building a Better Future. This conference featured presentations by national and international experts as well as a panel discussion with representatives of the five pillars of Social Partnership. All presentations given on the day are contained within this book of conference proceedings.

“Ireland, and indeed the planet, face several crises ranging from pandemic to pollution to poverty; a situation where ‘business as usual’ can mean only social and environmental catastrophe.  We have reached a point where adoption of a new Social Contract is surely a necessity. All sectors of Irish society should be engaged in an ongoing Social Dialogue to decide how best to proceed” –stated Dr Seán Healy, in his opening address to Social Justice Ireland’s annual policy conference today (Wednesday, 18th November). 


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’. 

On Thursday, 29th October 2020, the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, delivered a speech to the EEAC / NESC Annual Conference on the need for a "Just Transition for All". This speech echoes the themes of our own Annual Social Policy Conference on the need for a New Social Contract, a New Social Dialogue, taking place next Wednesday, 18th November 2020 from 10am. Registration for each of the three sessions is free and open now.

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