A vibrant economy, decent services and infrastructure, just taxation, good governance and sustainability. These are the five key issues identified this week by Social Justice Ireland that need to be the building blocks for our next programme for government, assuming there is to be one, in order to deliver a fairer future for Irish society, which has seen the gulf between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ widen even more in recent years and a hard-pressed ‘squeezed middle’ in between.
Launching his organisation’s policy briefing, ‘A Proposed Policy Framework for the Government of the 32nd Dáil,’ in Dublin on Monday, the director of Social Justice Ireland, Dr Seán Healy, made the valid point that the five key issues it identifies are essential ‘if the economy is to be stable and vibrant, and grow in a way that is suited to the development of a society characterised by justice, equality and well-being.’
All five are also interdependent and must be addressed in tandem; they need to be part of a major new investment programme in public services, which must include ‘dramatically increasing’ the number of social housing units and, crucially for rural Ireland, balanced regional development. To pay for all of this, there needs to be a broadening of the revenue base and then there is the old chestnut of meaningful reform of the Oireachtas to be undertaken.
In short, what we need is a government with a social conscience.