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Government policy slammed in review


Social justice campaigners accused the Government of protecting the rich

Social justice campaigners accused the Government of protecting the rich

PA Archive/Press Association Images

Social justice campaigners accused the Government of protecting the rich

The Government has been accused of protecting the rich while failing to address unemployment and emigration.

Social justice campaigner Fr Sean Healy maintained current policies do not address the core issues needed for real economic recovery, including better social protection and improved governance.

He said the working poor should not be victimised by the tax system, which he maintained needs to be overhauled to increase the overall tax take.

"A fractured society, a weak economy and persistently high unemployment do not constitute real recovery," Fr Healy added.

"Government continues to protect the rich at the expense of the rest of us while failing to address issues such as unemployment and emigration. Real recovery requires macroeconomic stability, just taxation, enhanced social protection, improved governance and real sustainability - none of which are part of current Government policy."

In its socio-economic review, Social Justice Ireland maintained 16% of the population, more than 731,000 people, are living in poverty including 230,000 children and 100,000 working poor.

It stated the social welfare system is not fit for purpose in the 21st century and called for payments and tax credits to be replaced with a basic income to keep households above the poverty line.

It also raised concerns over the 14% unemployment rate, which it claimed was being kept down by growing emigration, and warned the Government policy has given little attention to the long-term unemployment crisis.

"The austerity programme is contributing to Ireland's loss of young people, the implications of which are stark as this loss will pose significant problems for economic recovery," Fr Healy continued. "The emigration 'brain drain', which in some quarters is being heralded perversely as a 'safety valve', is in fact a serious problem for Ireland and may well lead to a skills deficit in the long term."

The review, What Would Real Recovery Look Like?, used official figures to analyse the economic and social challenges facing the Irish public and the impact of policies being implemented by the Government. It said poorer people who rely on public services, the voluntary sector and social housing are the most acutely affected by the cutbacks and inequalities in the health service.