Working to build a just society where human rights are respected, human dignity is protected, human development is facilitated and the environment is respected and protected.

Social Justice Ireland advances the lives of people and communities through providing independent social analysis and effective policy development to create a sustainable future for every member of society and for societies as a whole. We work to build a just society through developing and delivering credible analysis and policy to improve society and the lives of people. We identify sustainable options for the future and provide viable pathways forward.  In all of this we focus on human rights and the common good.


National Social Monitor shows need for longer-term focus in key policy areas

By 2025 the number of people living in Ireland aged over 85 years will have doubled. One clear implication of this will be additional demand for healthcare services and facilities. This is just one of many examples highlighted in Social Justice Ireland's National Social Monitor 2014 which highlight the need for longer-term planning by Government if Ireland is to promote the common good and ensure the wellbeing of its growing population.

Poorest 10% of households pay higher proportion of income in tax than richest 10%

New research on the total amount of tax Irish people pay finds that the poorest 10% of households pay a larger share of their income in tax than the richest 10%.  When income tax and indirect taxes such as VAT are included in the calculations the study conducted by the Nevin Economic Research Institute finds that:

  • The poorest 10% of households pay just over 30% of their income in taxes - mostly in the form of indirect taxes levied on the things they spend money on.
  • The richest 10% spend 29.5% of their income on tax - mostly in the form of direct income tax.

The combined tax burden produces a u-shaped graph, with the bottom and top of the income distribution paying most, and those on lower middle incomes paying least.

The research was conducted by Dr Micheál Collins, a former member of the Commission on Taxation.  It highlights the importance of Government thinking more broadly when considering changes to taxation.  The whole system needs to be addressed when changes are being made, not just the income tax system.

The full text of the paper may be accessed here.

Further information is available on the Nevin Institute's website.

16 per cent of adults living in poverty in Ireland have a job – these are the working poor.

  • 16 per cent of adults living in poverty are employed – these are the working poor.
  • Numbers living in poverty have increased by 120,000 since beginning of the recession.
  • The top ten per cent of households receives 24 per cent of total disposable income while the bottom ten per cent of households only receives 3 per cent.
  • Almost one in five children live in households with incomes below the poverty line.
  • Most weekly social assistance rates paid to single people are €14.21 below the poverty line.

Ireland's total tax-take remains among lowest in EU

The latest edition of 'Taxation Trends in the EU' (published June 16, 2014) shows that once again Ireland’s total tax-take is one of the lowest in the Union. It now stands at 28.7% of GDP compared to an EU average of 39.4%.  It is clear that if Ireland is to aspire to services and infrastructure at an EU-average level then it must move its total tax-take towards that EU average. 

Budget 2015 should protect the vulnerable, invest in social housing and disability services and roll out rural broadband.

Budget 2015 should:

  • Increase the PAYE tax credit and welfare rates by €5 a week.
  • Increase the PAYE tax credit and welfare rates by €5 a week.
  • Prioritise investment in social housing and disability services.
  • Provide broadband in all rural areas.
  • Introduce a minimum effective corporate tax rate of 6%.
  • Reduce borrowing below 3% of GDP in 2015.

In a Policy Briefing on 'Budget Choices' Social Justice Ireland  sets out a range of fully-costed proposals  for Budget 2015 that would: (i) see Ireland’s borrowing reduced; (ii) increase investment in Ireland's social infrastructure; (iii) make the tax system fairer; (iv) protect public services and vulnerable people and the communities in which they live.

What is the best possible solution to the problem of capitalism identified by Thomas Piketty?

Capital in the Twenty-First Century (577 pages) has been greeted as a book that will change the ways we think about society and economics. Paul Mason's review at www.theguardian.com/books/2014/apr/28/thomas-piketty-capital-surprise-bestseller sets out the situation.

Democratic deficit must be addressed in the EU and in Ireland

The democratic deficit in the EU and in Ireland are a major concern.  Decisions made during the economic crisis since 2008 have raised serious questions concerning the democratic legitimacy of the processes by which these decisions are made, both in Ireland and in Europe.

Challenge facing newly elected: Show that democracy can enhance the wellbeing of all

The European and local elections have shown that many people are profoundly unhappy with the current situation. The crises of recent years have made many people sceptical about the capacity of the political system to build a fairer, more just and sustainable future. Two challenges to be addressed in the years immediately ahead are: firstly, to prove that this scepticism is not valid; and secondly, to show that democracy can enhance the wellbeing of all.

Wellbeing should be the key focus of local and European elections

The key focus of the local and European elections should be securing the wellbeing of this and future generations.  Social Justice Ireland’s policy briefing ‘Elections 2014’ identifies some key issues and actions required that are critical to shaping a fairer future.  Action is needed in the areas of social inclusion, the economy, the democratic deficit and sustainability if we are to see the emergence of a just society in Ireland and across the EU.

All politicians need to recognise that a rising tide won’t lift all boats

  • Ireland must avoid a repetition of the boom to bust sequences that have characterised economic cycles in the past.
  • A shared commitment is needed to building a fairer future that prioritises the well-being of this and future generations.
  • Building a fairer future requires an integrated approach to five key policy areas i.e. macroeconomic stability, just taxation, social protection, governance and sustainability.
  • Tackling debt, poverty, services and governance should be the priorities in the years immediately ahead.

More than three quarters of a million people are in poverty in Ireland - an indictment of Government policy

  • 756,591 people are living in poverty in Ireland according to the latest CSO statistics published today..
  • Even though the poverty line fell by 15% since 2008, the proportion of Ireland's population below this lower poverty line has risen by 15% during the same period.
  • 68,740 of those over 65 are in poverty (up from 9.7% to 12.1% in a single year).
  • 220,411 children (18.8%) still live in poverty (proportion unchanged since last year).
  • Since the crash the proportion of people in consistent poverty has risen by 83%.  (4.2% of the population were in this situation in 2008 compared to 7.7% according to the new study).

New Report on Rural Ireland Published

The Commission for the Econonomic Development of Rural Areas has just published a report on Rural Ireland entitled 'Energising Ireland's Rural Economy'.

New 7-country study shows EU policies continue to produce rising poverty and unemployment

A new study produced by Social Justice Ireland for Caritas Europa reveals disturbing levels of poverty and deprivation in the seven EU countries worst affected by the economic crisis: Cyprus, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Romania and Spain.

The prioritisation by the EU and its Member States of economic policies at the expense of social policies during the current crisis is having a devastating impact on people, especially in the seven countries worst hit.

Minister’s decision to establish Public Participation Networks welcomed

Social Justice Ireland welcomes the decision by Minister Phil Hogan TD to establish Public Participation Networks (PPNs) in every local authority area as proposed by the working group.  These PPNs are to form part of the new structures for the engagement of local people and organisations at county and municipal level.

Ireland's scandalous corporate tax regime exposed AGAIN - New approach required

A story in The Irish Times (March 7, 2014) shows that Apple paid €36m tax on $7.11bn profits at its Irish unit. This is a scandal that must be addressed now by the Irish Government. Social Justice Ireland sets out some proposals below.

Policy Issues - A to Z

A wide range of material on many policy issues is available on this website. A list of these issues, arranged in alphabetical order, may be accessed here

Purchase: What Would REAL Recovery Look Like?

For €15 (including packaging and posatge) you can purchase Social Justice Ireland's annual Socio-Economic Review for 2013 entitled: What Would REAL Recovery Look Like?

Purchase 'Does the European Social Model Have a Future?'

Image Purchase 'Does the European Social Model Have a Future? Challenges and Responses 70 Years after the Beveridge Report' here for €15 (including packaging and postage).

Purchase 'Building a Fairer Tax System - The Working Poor and the Cost of Refundable Tax Credits'

You may purchase Social Justice Ireland's publication on 'Building a Fairer Tax System - The Working Poor and the Cost of Refundable Tax Credits' for €10 (including packaging and postage). 

Purchase 'The Future of the Welfare State'

You can purchase Social Justice Ireland's publication on The Future of the Welfare State for €15 (including packaging and postge). 

Government Tax Proposals could give €922 a year to a person earning €125,000 while giving NOTHING to those earning below €32,800

Government’s tax proposals should be rejected because they would give all the benefit to those earning over €32,800 while giving nothing to those earning less than that amount according to a new study by Social Justice Ireland.  This study shows that single people earning €125,000 could gain up to €922 (depending on how Government implemented its own proposals) while those earning less thatn €32,800 would gain nothing.

Working Group recommends People's Participation Networks be established in every Local Authority

Government has published the report of the working group on citizen engagement with local government, which recommends that a People’s Participation Network, (PPN) be established in every Local Authority area to ensure extensive input by citizens into the decision-making process at local government level.

European Parliament Committee raises serious questions concerning Troika's engagement with Ireland's bailout

Social Justice Ireland welcomes the fact that the European Parliament's Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs:

  • Considers that too little attention has been given to alleviating the negative economic and social impact of adjustment strategies in the Bailout countries such as Ireland. and
  • That too often the one-size fits all approach taken to crisis management by the Troika did not fully consider the balance in the economic and social impact of the prescribed policy measures.

These were two key points that had been presented regularly to the Troika by Social Justice Ireland in our meetings during the bailout years. 

Building a Just Society should be at the core of all Government programmes

783 million people live without clean water, 2.5 billion have no adequate sanitation and 1.4 billion people are without access to electricity in our world today.  This is a profoundly unjust situation.  In the EU there are 124.5 million people at risk of poverty or social exclusion.  In Ireland 16% of the population is at risk of poverty and one in every five children lives in a poor household.  On UN World Day for Social Justice (February 20, 2014) it is important to remind ourselves of these facts and of so many more similar facts that show in graphic detail how unjust our world is.

What Future for Ireland and Europe?

Both Ireland and the European Union are at a moment of transition.  It is very important in this context that we consider what sort of future we would like to see for Ireland and Europe.  With this in mind Social Justice Ireland asked a number of speakers at SPC 2013 about what kind of future they foresee for Ireland and Europe.  The interviews are available to view below.

Income tax bands should not be changed in the next Budget – benefit would only go to the better off

Social Justice Ireland challenges the Minister for Finance’s proposal that the tax band ceiling of €32,800 should be raised.  Changing the tax bands in the next Budget would only benefit those who are better off, not those earning low incomes.

Perspectives on Fiscal Challenges Facing Ireland - SPC 2013

Robert Watt, Secretary General of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform presented a paper examining the fiscal challenges facing Ireland at the Social Justice Ireland Social Policy Conference 2013.  The paper addressed State expenditure, new fiscal rules and sustaining social cohesion.

Social developments in Ireland at the time of fiscal consolidation - SPC 2013

Isvtán P. Svékely, European Commission DG for Economic and Financial Affairs, presented a paper at the Social Policy Conference 2013 which examined social developments in Ireland at the time of fiscal consolidation.  The paper explored social indicators and challenges ahead.  It was co-authored by Miroslav Florián.

Hope in the Face of Disaster - SPC 2013

John Sharry presented a paper at Social Justice Ireland's 2013 Social Policy Conference entitled Hope in the Face of Disaster – Creating a sustainable, viable path for future civilisation’.  The paper examines resource shortage economic instability, climate change and constructive responses to these challenges.

What Future for the Regions? - SPC 2013

Dr Patricia O’Hara presented a paper at Social Justice Ireland's Social Policy Conference 2013 entitled ‘What Future for the Regions?’ The paper examines the regions during the boom and after the collapse and policy options for the future.