Articles tagged with: Poverty and Inequality

Time to Act: Implementation of the Report of the Working Group on the Protection Process

on Wednesday, 27 April 2016. Posted in Issue 78 The Search for Refuge, Poverty & Inequality

PdfIconTime to Act: Implementation of the Report of the Working Group on the Protection Process

Eugene Quinn

Introduction

The Statement of Government Priorities 2014–2016, which was issued by the Fine Gael and Labour Party Coalition Government in July 2014, included a commitment to ‘treat asylum seekers with the humanity and respect that they deserve ... [and] reduce the length of time the applicant spends in the system ...’.1  

This commitment came against a background where the Irish system of Direct Provision for asylum seekers was featuring regularly in the media, with reports from around the country of protests, enforced transfers, hunger strikes and calls for the closure of accommodation centres. The growing concern about the Direct Provision system was encapsulated in a comment by the then Minister of State with special responsibility for New Communities, Culture and Equality, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD, who said: ‘None of us can stand over it, it’s just not acceptable’.2 

In mid-September 2014, a roundtable consultation was held by the government ministers with responsibility for the operation of the asylum and immigration systems in Ireland to hear the concerns and analyses of NGOs working in the area. Subsequently, in October, the Government established a Working Group which was asked to undertake the first comprehensive review of the protection process, including the Direct Provision system introduced in 2000, and report back to Government with recommendations.3

The EU Refugee and Migrant Crisis: A Shared Responsibility

on Wednesday, 27 April 2016. Posted in Issue 78 The Search for Refuge, Poverty & Inequality, International Issues

PdfIconThe EU Refugee and Migrant Crisis: A Shared Responsibility

David Moriarty

Introduction 

We cannot allow the Mediterranean to become a vast cemetery! The boats landing daily on the shores of Europe are filled with men and women who need acceptance and assistance. (Pope Francis)1

During 2015, over one million migrants and asylum seekers risked crossing the Mediterranean Sea in unsafe boats in an attempt to enter the territory of the European Union. For many, though, this hazardous journey led not to the possibility of a new life in a place of safety and opportunity but tragically to their death: over 3,700 men, women and children, including in some cases several members of the same family, died by drowning while attempting to cross into Europe.  

Asylum and immigration systems categorise people seeking entry from other states as ‘asylum seekers’, ‘refugees’, ‘forced migrants’, ‘economic migrants’. Yet it is important to remember that first and foremost these are people – people who share the same human condition that we do, who share the same hopes and dreams of a better life for themselves and their families. Behind the numbers and statistics are people with names and faces. 

Our Common Humanity: Human Rights and Refugee Protection

on Tuesday, 26 April 2016. Posted in Issue 78 The Search for Refuge, Poverty & Inequality, International Issues

PdfIconOur Common Humanity: Human Rights and Refugee Protection

Colin Harvey

Contexts

The global refugee crisis is raising profound questions about the status and effectiveness of protection regimes at all levels. It should also prompt reflection on the present international order and why, despite the plea of ‘never again’, we still witness human rights violations on massive scales. 

The world remains a structurally unequal place, where social injustice is rampant, and individuals and communities are routinely forced to flee their homes. However small it may now feel, the interdependent world we inhabit is not the welcoming place we might expect. Recognition of our common humanity increasingly runs parallel with exclusion, deterrence and deflection. For many, but not all, the world is a much more tightly regulated space, where states determine the contours of movement on a highly instrumental basis. The lives of individuals and communities become secondary to strategic games lacking in mercy and compassion. The plight of the forcibly displaced therefore presents a distinctive set of challenges: to deliver justice to the ‘stranger’ in need and to struggle for justice and peace in our world.  

Pope Francis continues to place great emphasis on refugee protection, and his work has generated a renewed focus on the social doctrine of the Church. Through word and deed, he demonstrates an openness to the humanity of the refugee. This is reflective of a long-standing practical engagement within the Catholic tradition of respect for the human rights of the forcibly displaced, and an embrace of an inclusive concept of ‘refugee’.1 Underpinning this perspective is a strong alignment with many pressing concerns of the modern human rights movement. At its heart is enduring respect for the dignity of the human person, and a conscious negation of all forms of domination and oppression that deny our inherent dignity. The demand is to experience the person first, as someone in need of our support and help. 

A Very Unlevel Playing Field: A Reflection on Young Adults in Higher Education

on Tuesday, 09 January 2018. Posted in Issue 81 Young Adults in Ireland Today, 2017

PdfIconA Very Unlevel Playing Field: A Reflection on Young Adults in Higher Education

Kevin O'Higgins SJ

Introduction
A lifetime of working with young adults has left me in no doubt that inequalities associated with the circumstances of our birth are more than likely to lead to successive waves of inequality that may accompany us throughout the remainder of our lives. This is true whether we are born into disadvantage or privilege.

Republic of Opportunity or State of Insecurity?

on Tuesday, 09 January 2018. Posted in Issue 81 Young Adults in Ireland Today, 2017

PdfIconRepublic of Opportunity or State of Insecurity?

James Doorley

Introduction

On the day of his election as An Taoiseach (June 14th 2017), Leo Varadkar T.D. spoke about creating a ‘republic of opportunity’.1 Although an admirable vision for the country, the evidence suggests that Irish society has a long way to go to make such noble ambitions a reality, particularly for unemployed young people and those struggling to find decent employment. Nearly a decade on from the economic crisis of 2008, Ireland is a different country; the scars of the economic recession are felt through unemployment, debt, cuts in income supports and the withdrawal of social services. As noted by both the National Economic and Social Council (NESC)2 and OECD3 young adults were particularly hard hit by factors such as reduced employment opportunities and insufficient quality education and training opportunities. Ten years on, some analysts argue that Ireland has recovered from the ‘lost decade’ and with this, there may be a perception that the situation for young people in Ireland has improved.4 However, many young people in Ireland still feel marginalised by the economic crisis,5 and increasingly, young people are at the frontline of a radical change in the nature of the labour market, such that in many sectors, the old model of permanent contracts and fixed hours has been replaced by precarious employment.6

 

Decent Work: Implications for Equality and Social Justice

on Sunday, 11 December 2016. Posted in Issue 79 Justice in the Global Economy, Poverty & Inequality, Economics

James Wickham

pdfDecent Work: Implications for Equality and Social Justice

Introduction
The idea that any job is better than no job is increasingly debatable, and the assumptions that have guided employment policy for decades no longer hold.

There is not much point in wanting to return to a golden past of straightforwardly good jobs, perhaps in the 1960s and 1970s, because they never existed. However, while in many ways work has got better, there has been a crucial deterioration in other aspects of work. Firstly, the very types of jobs that are being created are now part of a process of growing inequality. Secondly, much employment is insecure and precarious, and this means that many of the reasons why employment was seen as desirable are simply not valid anymore.

Justice in the Global Economy: A Theological Reflection

on Friday, 09 December 2016. Posted in Issue 79 Justice in the Global Economy, Economics, Church

Gerry O’Hanlon SJ

PdfIconJustice in the Global Economy: A Theological Reflection

Introduction
Justice in the Global Economy is a concise account of the crisis which humanity is currently facing: ‘We are faced not with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental’ (Laudato Si’, § 139). Of particular interest is the recommendation that Jesuits and colleagues have direct engagement with poorer communities and, in particular, that we turn ‘our institutions into instruments for economic justice’.1 The latter is spelled out in terms of harnessing research resources and advancing knowledge in favour of poorer people, networking to focus on policy issues, lobbying in this direction, and realising the potential of our professional schools in faculty, students and alumni to bring about changes to the status quo.2

Reflections from an Ignatian Educational Perspective

on Thursday, 08 December 2016. Posted in Issue 79 Justice in the Global Economy, Economics

Brian Flannery

PdfIconReflections from an Ignatian Educational Perspective

Introduction
The Report, Justice in the Global Economy, is a call to action. Whilst it combines the clarity and scholarship of an academic paper, its underlying tone conveys urgency. The Report calls on all of us in Jesuit works to wake up to the realities that humankind is facing and asks that as individuals, organisations, and institutions we turn our attention and energy to addressing these global challenges immediately.

This study and the urgency of its message is clearly stimulated by various statements of Pope Francis who is quoted as calling on all Christians to fight against ‘an economy that kills’ and to address ‘the structural causes of inequality’.1 The Pope sees humankind as being at a pivotal point in history where, despite economic advancements, sizeable parts of the world’s population are excluded from economic prosperity, are socially isolated and live in poverty.

Editorial

on Wednesday, 03 December 2014. Posted in Issue 75 Inequality Matters

PdfIconEditorial

This issue of Working Notes looks at inequality – a  subject which has been the focus of increasing attention in the last few years, from sources as diverse as the Occupy movement and the OECD. The slogan of the former, ‘We are the 99%’, reflects the extreme concentration of wealth and incomes in the top 1% of the population in developed countries. Meanwhile, the latter acknowledges that: ‘Income inequality in OECD countries is at its highest level for the past half century. The average income of the richest 10% of the population is about nine times that of the poorest 10% across the OECD, up from seven times 25 years ago’. (www.oecd.org; emphasis in the original)

Household Wealth and its Distribution in Ireland

on Wednesday, 03 December 2014. Posted in Issue 75 Inequality Matters

PdfIconHousehold Wealth and its Distribution in Ireland

Tom McDonnell

Introduction

We do not know the distribution of household wealth in Ireland. The reason is straightforward. We do not yet have sufficiently high-quality data usable for distributional analysis – the type of analysis that would allow us to know what groups within society own what share of wealth. We cannot even be certain about aggregate net wealth in Ireland or of the composition of wealth by asset type. 

Household balance sheet data, such as quarterly accounts data, is of minimal use for distributional analysis as it provides only aggregate data and excludes certain types of asset. On the other hand, survey data contain systemic biases due to the undervaluation and/or omission of certain asset types – for example, financial and personal assets. 

Ireland's Income Distribution

on Monday, 01 December 2014. Posted in Issue 75 Inequality Matters

PdfIconIreland's Income Distribution

Micheál L. Collins

Introduction

Judged in an international context, Ireland is a high income country. The 2014 United Nations Human Development Report ranks Ireland as having the 28th highest gross national income per person in the world – with an average income at almost two and a half times the world average.1 Data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show that average incomes, also measured as gross national income per person, stood at €32,599 in 2013 – a historically high figure, though lower than the peaks achieved in the years immediately before the recent economic recession.2 

However, while overall averages are interesting, they assume an equal distribution of income across the population. In reality, income is not so evenly spread.

Catholic Social Teaching and Inequality

on Monday, 01 December 2014. Posted in Issue 75 Inequality Matters

PdfIconCatholic Social Teaching and Inequality

Gerry O’Hanlon SJ

The Question

My 92 year old uncle Rory recalls with fondness a time back in the 1940s and '50s when he used to go for the odd drink in summer time with the then-goalkeeper of the Irish soccer team, a relative through marriage. Rory, a tradesman, was earning about IR£10 a week; Tommy, a soccer star playing in England, earned about IR£20. The differential in earnings was no bar to social relations. Would there be the same ease of relations if the footballer were earning a 100 times, a 1,000 times what the ordinary person earns, as is the situation today?

In the Preface to their book, The Spirit Level, Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett state: ‘At an intuitive level people have always recognized that inequality is socially corrosive’.1 They go on to argue that, beyond intuition, the evidence shows that less equal societies have poorer outcomes in nearly every social domain.2 This implies, counter-intuitively, that even the very rich benefit from a more equal society.

Interview with Thomas Piketty, Author of Capital in the 21st Century

on Monday, 01 December 2014. Posted in Issue 75 Inequality Matters

PdfIconInterview with Thomas Piketty, Author of Capital in the 21st Century

Jean Merckaert and Jean Vettraino

Introduction  

Thomas Piketty is an economist. He is director of studies at the School of Advanced Studies in Social Sciences in Paris and a professor at the Paris School of Economics. His research focuses on economic inequalities. His most recent book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century,1 has generated lively debate in the United States and Europe.

In Capital in the 21st Century, Thomas Piketty shows that the rich get richer more quickly than the rest of society, in an almost mechanical fashion. In his view, the main driver of inequality is the tendency of returns on capital to exceed the rate of economic growth. He makes the case for a progressive taxation – including income tax, inheritance taxation and a yearly tax on capital. Is this possible at a national level? Is it realistic in an era of tax havens? Would it be enough to reduce inequalities? 

 

Unemployment and the European Union

on Wednesday, 14 May 2014. Posted in Issue 74 Issues for the New EU Parliament?, Poverty & Inequality, Economics

unemploymentSpain's unemployment at hightest level since 1960s © iStockIntroductionIn 2013, unemployment in Germany, at 5.3 per cent, was at its lowest level since reunification. In the same year, Spain’s unemployment rate, 26.4 per cent, was at its highest level since at least the 1960s, before which reliable statistics are more difficult to come by. Austrian unemployment is also low at 4.9 per cent, and though Ireland’s nearest neighbour, the UK, has unemployment of 7.6 per cent this is simply on a par with previous recessions, such as during the early to mid 1990s.1

Elections 2014: A Turning Point for the European Social Model

on Wednesday, 14 May 2014. Posted in Issue 74 Issues for the New EU Parliament?

electionhanin

Candidates at EAPN Dublin constituency hustings, one of three held in the Irish EU constituencies.

© EAPN Ireland

 

pdfElections 2014: A Turning Point for the European Social Model

For many people, particularly those struggling to make ends meet, the European Parliament elections can seem very remote from the reality of their lives. It is tempting to either ignore the elections entirely or use them to make a statement about national politics or the personality of candidates.

This would be a mistake.

Over the life of the new parliament, the European Union and its Member States will face fundamental choices about what type of society and economy to build after the recession. These choices will affect everyone but, like the decisions taken during the recession and before, they will have the sharpest impact on people experiencing poverty, social exclusion and discrimination.

 

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