Articles tagged with: Poverty and Inequality

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?


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.


The Meaning of Dublin's Great Lockout 1913

on Friday, 14 March 2014. Posted in Issue 73 The Rights of Workers – Then and Now, Poverty & Inequality, Economics

Brendan Mac Partlin SJ

Food parcel docket, 1913.
Courtesy of B. MacPartlin SJ

Every person has a right to purposeful activity and a living income. The people of central Dublin were deprived of these rights when they were locked out of work with little or no income for four months in 1913. In remembering this tragic event I will try to situate it in a context of labour relations. Although the past is a foreign country, the core issues of the dispute remain and are being played out at a global level. The exclusion of the people of central Dublin in 1913 is a case that might throw light on the exclusion of vast numbers of people in today’s world and suggest pathways towards sustainable relations.

Lives on Hold: Living Long-Term in Direct Provision Accommodation

on Thursday, 18 April 2013. Posted in Issue 71 Waiting for Asylum Decisions, Poverty & Inequality

Canteen in direct provision centre © D. Speirs

Canteen in direct provision centre
© D. Speirs

Direct Provision

Prior to 2000, people seeking asylum in Ireland were able to avail of mainstream social welfare payments, such as supplementary welfare allowance and rent supplement; in other words, they were assessed for entitlement along the same criteria as people already resident in the country. However, in the late 1990s the arrival of record numbers of people seeking the protection of the Irish State led to a change in policy in relation to the provision of accommodation and income for applicants during the processing of their claim. The result was the introduction of a system of ‘direct provision’.

Breaking the Silence on Racism

on Thursday, 18 April 2013. Posted in Issue 71 Waiting for Asylum Decisions, Poverty & Inequality

Refusing to see racism © iStock
Refusing to see racism  © iStock


Racism is a persistent and increasing problem in the European Union and it is a problem from which Ireland is not exempt. Racist incidents are an everyday occurrence in Ireland, but this is a reality that remains invisible to most of the population.

As a State, we have not yet developed the means to adequately deal with the issue. Racism is a violation of human rights and also a barrier to integration – it is clear that attempts to integrate or participate fully in Irish society will never be completely successful as long as racism persists.

The Social Impact of the Economic Crisis in Europe

on Wednesday, 11 July 2012. Posted in Issue 69 The Future of the Euro, International Issues, Economics

What is happening in Greece is dramatic; the IMF/EU plan for saving the country is destroying the country; the Greek people are more aware than a year ago that the remedy is killing the patient. It is destroying any kind of solidarity at European level. It can happen to Portugal, Spain, France, Italy and Belgium. The question is not about our public sector or our corrupt government or about the Greeks that are lazy … The question [is] is the IMF changing the actual character of our European social model [?] ... there is impoverishment of our middle class, a return to the countryside, and emigration of our youth. There is a support network at neighbourhood and village level, because public sector formal social support networks have collapsed … People day by day are not any more fighting poverty; they are fighting for survival.1                                                                                                       EAPN Greece


Still Homeless

on Wednesday, 14 December 2011. Posted in Issue 68 After the Housing Bubble, Poverty & Inequality, Housing Policy

It was to have been the year of hope for homeless people. By the beginning of 2011, we should have been entering a new phase in the provision of services for those who are, for whatever reason, out of home. This was to have been the case, because the end of 2010 had been set as the target date for achieving two highly significant developments in relation to services for homeless people – one was the elimination of the need for any person to sleep rough, and the other was the elimination of the need for any person to remain long-term (that is, for more than six months) in an emergency homeless facility. Both these developments had been set out as key objectives in The Way Home, the five-year official strategy on homelessness, published by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government in 2008.1


Social Vulnerability in a Divided Housing System

on Wednesday, 14 December 2011. Posted in Issue 68 After the Housing Bubble, Poverty & Inequality, Housing Policy

Ireland’s economic crisis and the central problems in the housing system that played a large part in precipitating that crisis should make it clear that there is an urgent need for new ways of thinking about housing. The model that became dominant during the economic boom was one of market idolatry and the relentless commodification of housing, such that it became primarily an investment vehicle for realising exchange values, often from no productive activity whatsoever.


‘Up Stairs, Down Stairs’: Whose Interests are being Protected?

on Wednesday, 18 November 2009. Posted in Issue 62 Who Will Pay for Recession?

Peter McVerry SJ

November, 2009

‘Up Stairs, Down Stairs’: Whose Interests are being Protected?

The Parable

John and Jane are tenants in the same house. John lives in a flat on the top floor. At 8 o’clock in the morning he pulls the curtains; the sun shines in. He looks out the window at the mountains in the distance rolling down to the sea. The mountains are beautiful; sometimes in winter they are covered in snow; mostly, though, they are a luscious mixture of greens and browns. He sees the ships coming in and out of the harbour and the yachts on the sea. The sun shows the scene in all its beauty. He says: ‘It is a beautiful day. It is great to be alive’.

Jane lives in the basement flat of the same house. At 8 o’clock in the morning she pulls the curtains; nothing happens. The sun cannot get in. She looks out the window but she cannot see the mountains, or the sea or the yachts or the sun. All she sees is a stone wall, yards from the window. She hardly knows what sort of day it is.

Working Notes Issue 62 Editorial

on Wednesday, 18 November 2009. Posted in Issue 62 Who Will Pay for Recession?

Issue 62 Editorial

In a recent interview, the writer Iain Banks, expressing strong criticism of senior British politicians, said that they were ‘very good at standing up to the weak and poor, and utterly pathetic at standing up against the rich and powerful; they roll over every single time’ (The Guardian, 8 September 2009). As we in Ireland watch measures being unfolded to deal with the banking crisis and the deficit in the public finances, we too may have cause to wonder if our decision-makers, and those who influence them, favour an approach of being ‘strong with the weak’ and ‘weak with the strong’.

Irish Health Services: Money, Inequality and Politics

on Tuesday, 02 June 2009. Posted in Issue 60 Health Matters

Sara Burke

May 2009

Irish Health Services: Money, Inequality and Politics

Official reports on health

Some of the many official reports
on health



On 10 March 2009, the Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney TD, said in the Dáil that emerging pressures on the finances of the Health Service Executive (HSE) would mean that savings of €480 million would have to be made elsewhere in its budget over the course of the year. The HSE, however, said on 12 March 2009 that in order to meet the new pressures and stay within budget it would have to make savings in other areas amounting to over €1 billion.

The divergence in the projections as to the scale of the shortfall went largely unnoticed by politicians, the media and the public. A month later, in a statement issued following the Supplementary Budget of 7 April 2009, the Minister for Health and Children referred to the shortfall as amounting to €540 million.1

How Much Equality is Needed for Justice?

on Tuesday, 13 November 2007. Posted in Issue 56 The Anniversary Issue

Gerry O’Hanlon SJ, theologian and staff member of the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice
November, 2007

How much redistribution is needed for Justice?

pdf How Much Equality is Needed for Justice?




Critics of Ireland’s decade-long economic boom often, with an eye to justice, express considerable concern about ‘rising inequality and about the core features of the strategy adopted by the Government to combat poverty’.1 This is so despite the fact that since 1994 the percentage of the population living in ‘consistent poverty’ appears to have fallen from 16 per cent to 7 per cent.2 However, since the late 1990s, ‘relative income poverty’ has persistently remained around 20 per cent, higher than it was in 1994.3 Would it be more just to return to a poorer but more equal Ireland, or is this the wrong kind of question to ask? Can we say instead that this is not a choice Ireland needs to make?4



on Thursday, 26 April 2007. Posted in Issue 55 The Election Issue, 2007

May, 2007


pdf Development 54.84 Kb


The Government’s performance in recent years in relation to development cooperation has been hailed in many quarters as a considerable success. The decision in 2005 to re-instate the commitment to meeting the UN target of spending 0.7 per cent of GNP on development aid, and the achievement of the first interim target of 0.5 per cent by 2007, have been widely welcomed. Ireland continues to provide a high quality of aid, having good aid predictability, not tying its aid to conditions and being poverty focused. Given its relatively small population, Ireland is a not a big donor in terms of overall volume of aid but its per capita contribution is high and is set to improve further. The most recent OECD survey places Ireland sixth in the global league table of countries’ contributions to development aid as a percentage of Gross National Income.

Educational Disadvantage

on Thursday, 26 April 2007. Posted in Issue 55 The Election Issue, 2007

May 2007

pdf Education Disadvantage 65.09 Kb


If you are a child or young person attending school in a disadvantaged area of Dublin, there is a 30 per cent chance that you will leave primary school with a serious literacy problem;1 only a 50:50 chance that you will sit your Leaving Certificate,2 and a 90 per cent probability that you will not go to college.3 In contrast, if you are a child or young person whose parents are from a professional background and you live in a prosperous part of Dublin, you have only a 10 per cent chance of leaving primary school with a serious literacy problem, you will almost certainly complete your Leaving Certificate and be part of the 86 per cent of young people in your area who go to college.

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When Ireland became an independent State it inherited some appallingly bad housing conditions. This was most notoriously the case in the severely deprived areas of inner-city Dublin, but inadequate and overcrowded housing which lacked basic facilities was also prevalent in towns and villages and rural areas around the country. Read full editorial

Working Notes is a journal published by the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice. The journal focuses on social, economic and theological analysis of Irish society. It has been produced since 1987.