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Working Notes Issue 83 Editorial

on Monday, 04 February 2019. Posted in 2019, Issue 83 Harm of Inaction, Back Issues

Editorial

When Pope Francis met with a number of survivors of clerical abuse during his visit to Ireland in August 2018, the impact was profound. The expectations of those he met were minimal — that they would sit and listen, and he would leave after 30 minutes. Instead, the meeting went on for an hour-and-a-half and everyone was given an opportunity to speak. Francis listened intently, expressing his anger at the harm caused and his shame at the failure of the Church authorities to tackle clerical abuse in Ireland.

Immediately after meeting the survivors, Francis met with members of the Irish Jesuit community. It was not a coincidence that he spoke about abuse within the Church, making specific reference to Ireland, Chile and the United States. Francis called upon the Irish Jesuits to help, by speaking out. In December the Jesuit Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat in Rome established the Project for the Promotion of a Consistent Culture of Child Protection. This Jesuit project is being administered from Ireland and will identify gaps in existing programmes and make recommendations to promote a culture of protection in the 70+ countries where Jesuits work.

Lifelong Harm of Trauma and Homelessness

on Thursday, 31 January 2019. Posted in 2019, Issue 83 Harm of Inaction, Back Issues

Lifelong Harm of Trauma and Homelessness

Dalma Fabian

INTRODUCTION

Rates of homelessness are rising in almost all EU countries with a 150% increase in Germany from 2014 to 2016, a 20% rise in the number of people in emergency shelters in Spain over the same period, and an 8% increase in Denmark between 2015 and 2017. In the Netherlands 4,000 children in 2015 were registered with local authorities as homeless, up 60% on 2013. While the official number of people experiencing homelessness in Ireland is contested,1 the number has increased by 200% between July 2014 and November 2018, family homelessness having particularly contributed to this rise.2

Mortality rates among people experiencing homelessness are shockingly high. In England, the average age of death for men is 47 years old and for women it is even lower at just 43 years old. This is compared to 77 years old for the general population.3 Findings from a 2016 study of mortality among people experiencing homelessness in the Dublin region found that the average life expectancy was 44 for men and 38 for women.4 The impact of homelessness on the individual and society is profound, and it is therefore increasingly important to develop effective strategies to prevent and reduce the phenomenon. 

What Harm a Poor Healthcare System?

on Thursday, 31 January 2019. Posted in 2019, Issue 83 Harm of Inaction, Back Issues

What Harm a Poor Healthcare System?

Sheelah Connolly

INTRODUCTION

What constitutes a good healthcare system? Opinions differ, but the World Health Organisation (WHO) has simply defined it as one that: “delivers quality services to all people, when and where they need them.”1 This definition is closely aligned to the much-discussed concept of universal healthcare. While the term is somewhat ambiguous and often used without explanation, most commentators agree that universal healthcare encompasses individuals receiving the care they need without suffering financial hardship.2

A majority of European countries introduced universal healthcare (to a lesser or greater extent) during the 20th Century. However, Ireland remains an anomaly in Europe in not providing it. In this article, I explore some of the benefits of universal healthcare before examining the shortcomings of the Irish healthcare system and their potential for harm.

A More Humane Approach to Addressing Harm

on Thursday, 31 January 2019. Posted in 2019, Issue 83 Harm of Inaction, Back Issues

A More Humane Approach to Addressing Harm

Tim Chapman

INTRODUCTION

The core value of the common good, which sustains community and justice, is being eroded in modern society.1 Globalisation has provided many material comforts, but resulted in an underlying sense of insecurity and risk.2 Many people have lost the experience of solidarity with others that community and religion offered in the past. They feel threatened by other groups, often blaming them for their lack of access to employment, housing and public services.

In this paper, which is based upon research commissioned by a Catholic philanthropic organisation, an alternative, and more humane approach to addressing harm is presented – one that has a greater potential for positive outcomes. In our original research, we were interested specifically in the values of human dignity, active participation in society, the common good, social justice, and solidarity. These are concepts that also serve as core components of Catholic social teaching. Our goal was to explore if these values could transform the way society responds to crime.

Reflections on Ireland's Response to Potentially Irreversible Climate Change

on Thursday, 31 January 2019. Posted in 2019, Issue 83 Harm of Inaction, Back Issues

Reflections on Ireland's Response to Potentially Irreversible Climate Change

Thomas L. Muinzer

INTRODUCTION
Ireland stands at an important historical moment. We live in an era where the world is endeavouring at last to get to grips with what philosopher Noam Chomsky, recently deceased physicist Stephen Hawking, and many others have described as one of the greatest problems facing humanity, that is, anthropogenic (human driven) climate change.1 Ireland has the capacity to make a world-leading contribution towards overcoming this challenge. However, its current performance is extremely poor given the diminishing time available to prevent dangerous climate change.

Writing six years ago in the Cork Online Law Review, produced out of Cork University, I made some general observations on Ireland’s overall performance in the sphere of climate governance, and ended with a question.2 Alluding to W.B. Yeats, I invited the reader to “call to the mind’s eye”3 from out of the grave John Tyndall (1820–1893), the Victorian scientist, and ask what he would make of Ireland’s climate commitments and performance if he were alive today (?). Tyndall was chosen not only because he was Irish (from County Carlow), but because he made essential contributions to the unfolding understanding of the science behind climate change.4 His most important contribution to science was to demonstrate and measure how atmospheric greenhouse gases absorb heat to different extents. This work made a vital contribution to our understanding of the greenhouse effect that underpins climate change.5

Working Notes Issue 82 Editorial

on Tuesday, 12 June 2018. Posted in Issue 82 A Republic of Missed Opportunities, 2018, Back Issues

PdfIconEditorial

As a society, Ireland puts effort into remembering. Orchestrated campaigns have been launched for the “decade of commemorations,” as we mark the centenary of the decisive events, from the 1913 Lock-out to the cessation of the Civil War in 1923, that established modern Ireland. Yet right in the middle of that period, in 2018, we reach the landmark ten years since the end of the Celtic Tiger.

As Ireland considers its distant past, its present reality is shaped by the decisions made in autumn 2008. Reflective pieces on this last decade of economic turmoil tend to take a financial bent and imagine a happy future where the Tiger roars again. It seems that no remembering of this last decade can be conducted which is not centred around analyses of GDP, GNP, and official statistics. 

Crisis Ruins and their Resolution? Ireland’s Property Bubble Ten Years On

on Tuesday, 12 June 2018. Posted in Issue 82 A Republic of Missed Opportunities, 2018, Back Issues

PdfIconCrisis Ruins and their Resolution? Ireland’s Property Bubble Ten Years OnTen Years On

Cian O’Callaghan

Cian O’Callaghan is Assistant Professor of Geography at Trinity College Dublin. His recent research, which was funded by the IRC, has concerned the impacts of Ireland’s property bubble and associated crisis, with a particular focus on housing.

What your sandwich says about you

In a well-known advert for Bank of Ireland, a young man sits at his desk while his co-workers are seen leaving for lunch. “Tom is on a journey,” we are told. “Every dull homemade ham sanger with just a tiny bit of mayo brings him closer to a deposit for his first house.” Tom is depicted as hardworking and frugal, putting in place the necessary sacrifices now to secure his future home, in contrast to his co-workers’ extravagance. Alone in the office, his sandwich bursts into song, the bread lip-syncing to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.” The advert ends with Tom browsing through property websites.

This advert responds to a new post-crisis economic reality, the parameters of which are in one sense strangely familiar. Banks have returned to a business model of pushing mortgages and stoking property market inflation. In recent years, we have seen the Government reintroduce measures to incentivise private market supply, such as a grant for first-time buyers, and the use of Public Private Partnerships to redevelop social housing estates, while vested interests have lobbied for the loosening of planning restrictions. Within the context of the scale of Ireland’s still recent property bubble and banking collapse, the normative return of such marketing is itself noteworthy. But if we look closer we can also see the subtle changes in these discourses.

Ireland and Climate Change: Looking Back and Looking Ahead

on Tuesday, 12 June 2018. Posted in Issue 82 A Republic of Missed Opportunities, 2018, Back Issues

PdfIconIreland and Climate Change:Looking Back and Looking AheadLooking Back and Looking Ahead

Sadhbh O’Neill

Sadhbh O’Neill is a PhD candidate and Government of Ireland Scholar based at the School of Politics and International Relations, UCD.

Introduction

Climate policy falls into that strange category of things government does not want to do, but must do. There are no (or few) votes in it. Doing it properly entails more effort and higher taxes. It involves uncertainty, complexity and a fractious mix of potential winners and losers. In the short term – which is the only temporal frame of reference available to political actors – it is not obvious what the rewards are, except perhaps the warm glow of civic virtue. For decision-makers, climate policy is viewed as a cost, a regulatory nuisance, an administrative burden with few effective change-agents making things happen on the ground. Talk of co-benefits such as cleaner air and healthier waterbodies count for little in this assessment. The “deep” Irish State is still hoping that magical thinking will part the clouds and deliver the ultimate techno-fix: altered strains of cow, citizen and machine will descend from the sky, and nothing else will need to change.

Framing the Tiger’s Death: How the Media Shaped the Lost Economic Decade

on Tuesday, 12 June 2018. Posted in Issue 82 A Republic of Missed Opportunities, 2018, Back Issues

PdfIconFraming the Tiger’s Death: How the Media Shaped the Lost Economic Decade

Henry Silke

Dr Henry Silke serves as Lecturer in Journalism at the University of Limerick’s School of English, Irish and Communication and directs the school’s MA and Graduate Diploma in Journalism.

Ten years on from the property and banking crash many of the same issues still set the news agenda. Property continues to make the headlines. We are currently in one of the worst housing crises in the history of the state, fuelled by ever growing rental inflation where landlords, despite recent reforms, can seemingly still raise prices and evict, while tenants have little serious recourse. A lost generation, too young during the period of cheap credit pre-crash, and getting older while paying exorbitant rents, have little chance of ever qualifying for a mortgage in the current inflationary climate. In the absence of fixity of tenure, this leaves them without hope for a secure home. Public housing remains, despite numerous promises, something from the history books rather than a serious option for most working people. Cost-rental models remain hypothetical.

Writing the Stories of the Celtic Tiger

on Tuesday, 12 June 2018. Posted in Issue 82 A Republic of Missed Opportunities, 2018, Back Issues

PdfIconWriting the Stories of the Celtic Tiger

An interview with literature scholar Marie Mianowski

Economic analysis has no monopoly on how to examine economic history. The death of the Celtic Tiger is a phenomenon that can be represented in graphs, in tables, in charts, and also in prose. Irish novelists have taken to the page to account for what life was like on this island during the Celtic Tiger and after 2008, and their work is too often overlooked in policy discussions. A de-facto assumption may be at play that what cannot be counted cannot be considered. Such strident empiricism would be hard to defend philosophically or politically, but a culture persists which holds that the policy expert might consider the Arts in her spare time, but for research, a certain understanding of Science prevails.

When we remember the role that literature has played throughout modern Irish history, any omission of writers from our group of interlocutors would be tragic. Marie Mianowski is Professor of Literature at Grenoble Alpes University. She studies Irish literature and has written extensively on the reflection of the Celtic Tiger era and its aftermath in the contemporary novel. Her book Post Celtic Tiger Landscapes in Irish Fiction was published by Routledge in 2016.1 I interviewed her about that book and more broadly about how the novel can be a window through which we consider the impact of the economic crash and subsequent recovery on Irish society.