Articles tagged with: Editorial


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


John Guiney SJ and Eugene Quinn

During 2015, in excess of one million refugees and migrants risked their lives in crossing the Mediterranean Sea to enter the European Union. More than 3,700 people, one quarter of them children, died by drowning during the attempt. Europe’s experience of increased forced migration is just one element of a global phenomenon of  escalating displacement of people, as a result of conflict, persecution, extreme poverty, and other human rights violations. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that there are now, worldwide, almost 60 million displaced persons, the highest number since World War II. 

Working Notes Issue 81 Editorial

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


The Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures Report (2014-2020) sets out a realistic vision for the future of children and young people in Ireland. This vision is for ‘Ireland to be one of the best small countries in the world in which to grow up and raise a family, and where the rights of all children and young people are respected, protected and fulfilled; where their voices are heard and where they are supported to realise their maximum potential now and in the future’. Forming the basis of this vision is the realisation that young adulthood is precious and there is an onus on the State to ensure that today’s youth feel confident, and are supported and prepared for adulthood. Objectives central to this vision include listening to and involving young adults, providing quality services underpinned by effective transitions to youth employment, and cross-government and interagency collaboration and coordination.

Working Notes • Issue 80 Editorial

on Monday, 16 October 2017. Posted in Issue 80 Rebuilding Ireland: A Flawed Philosophy, 2017


cover issue 80

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. Over the following seven decades, significant improvements in Irish housing took place, not just because the country (eventually) became more prosperous but because public policy sought to bring this about. Grants and other subsidies provided by the State enabled an increasing number of households to become home-owners; in addition, as a result of large-scale provision by local authorities, tens of thousands of low-income households were enabled to access affordable and secure social housing. This is not to suggest that the policies pursued were always adequate – mistakes were made, most notably the failure to bring about greater social integration through housing and the frequent failure to provide essential social and community facilities in new housing developments.

Working Notes • Issue 79 Editorial

on Sunday, 11 December 2016. Posted in Issue 79 Justice in the Global Economy

December 2016

Issue 79 front cover


In February 2016, the Jesuit Secretariat for Social Justice and Ecology and for Higher Education in Rome published a Special Report on Justice in the Global Economy. The Report was compiled by an international group of Jesuits and lay colleagues in the fields of social science and economics, philosophy and theology. It understands itself as part of the thrust of the pontificate of Pope Francis with his insistence, particularly in his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (2013), and his Encyclical Letter, Laudato Si’ (2015), on the need for action in the face of ongoing poverty, growing inequality, and severe environmental degradation: 

‘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’, 2015, § 139)

This issue of Working Notes is a response to the Report, focusing specifically on two major themes: the changing nature of work and the implications for inequality and social justice, and the unattended fragility of our common home.


on Sunday, 04 October 2015. Posted in Issue 77 Caring for Our Common Home, Environment


Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato si’: On Care for Our Common Home, the first papal document devoted entirely to ecology, has generated considerable interest and debate since its publication in June 2015. The encyclical is at once an exploration of the various environmental crises facing the world, a radical critique of current economic models, a call to action, and a reminder of the values which underpin Christian concern for the environment. 


on Friday, 22 May 2015. Posted in Issue 76 A Dysfunctional Housing System?


In little more than a decade, the housing system in Ireland has gone from the peak phase of a property boom to a collapse of the market and dramatic falls in both housing output and prices, and now to a situation where house prices are rising, particularly in urban areas, but where we continue to see the unfolding of the consequences of the ‘boom and bust’ in Irish housing – and the failure of public policy evident in both phases.  

This issue of Working Notes draws attention to the significant problems now facing tens of thousands of households in Ireland in terms of housing access, affordability and security.

The most serious indicator of the housing crisis is the increase in homelessness, reflected in the rise in the number of people sleeping rough, and in the number of individuals, and of families with children, having to live in emergency accommodation. Peter McVerry writes: ‘Homelessness is now worse than at any time in recent memory .... Many of the ‘new homeless’ have never been homeless before, and until this current crisis would never for a moment have thought they could become homeless’. 


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


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’. (; emphasis in the original)

Working Notes Issue 68 Editorial

on Wednesday, 14 December 2011. Posted in Issue 68 After the Housing Bubble

pdf iconWorking Notes: Issue 68 Editorial

The Housing Policy Statement, issued by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government in June 2011, declared that the ‘overall strategic objective’ of the Coalition Government’s housing policy would be ‘to enable all households access good quality housing appropriate to household circumstances and in their particular community of choice’. In reality, this is a re-statement, an updated wording, of the long-standing official aim of Irish housing policy; its most immediate predecessor was worded thus: ‘to enable every household to have available an affordable dwelling of good quality, suited to its needs, in a good environment and as far as possible at the tenure of its choice’.

We are now all too aware of how readily the core objective of official housing policy was lost sight of during the housing boom, and of how the interests of investors, developers and land-owners, and the concern to maximise returns from housing-related taxes and charges, took priority over protecting and promoting the right of all citizens to have access to adequate housing.

The critical issue now is whether the newly restated ‘overall objective’ of housing policy will actually be implemented. Will it be allowed to influence and shape all Government actions which impact on housing, including planning laws and regulations; taxation policies affecting investors, developers and home owners; the operation of NAMA; the State’s own role in providing or subsidising social housing? In the face of the demands of vested interests, will those responsible for implementing the housing policy be able to fulfil the promise contained in the Statement that, in the future, policy ‘will neither force nor entice people through fiscal or other stimuli to treat housing as a commodity and a means of wealth creation’?

Three of the articles in this issue of Working Notes highlight some of the consequences of failures of past, and current, housing policy in Ireland.

In the opening article, Michael Punch considers the ‘housing vulnerability’ that is now the experience of tens of thousands of households in Ireland, instancing the mortgage debt crisis, the dramatic rise in the number of households on the waiting lists for social housing, and the precarious situation of the many households on low incomes in poor- quality private rented accommodation.

Peter McVerry SJ writes about the increase in the overall number of people becoming homeless and the rise in the number unable to access even emergency accommodation. He points out that the 2008 Homeless Strategy promised a new era for services for homeless people, with 2010 set as the target date for achieving two key objectives, namely, an end to the need for any person to sleep rough or to remain in emergency shelter for longer than six months. He attributes the failure to achieve these targets to the decision to rely on the private sector to provide accommodation for people moving out of homelessness, rather than the direct provision of social housing through local authorities and voluntary housing bodies.

Patrick Hume SJ draws attention to the very limited consumer protection offered to house buyers in Ireland, and argues that in many respects the classic defence of ‘let the buyer beware’ continues to prevail in the property market. He notes the extremely inadequate enforcement system in regard to the State’s own building regulations, and urges action to strenghten this system and address the many other deficits in protection for home buyers.

In the final article in this issue, Eugene Quinn reminds us that 2011 marks the sixtieth anniversary of the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. He notes that critics of the Convention claim that it fails to meet many of the demands now being placed on it as a result of the changing and increasingly complex nature of displacement, but he argues that its deficiencies do not mean it is irrelevant or unworkable, though it does require constant review. The Convention, he says, has enabled millions to find refuge over the past sixty years, and it provides a solid foundation on which to build supplementary systems of protection for those who fall outside its remit.



Working Notes Issue 65 Editorial

on Thursday, 09 June 2011. Posted in Issue 65 JRS: 30 Years of Serving Refugees

Working Notes Issue 65 Editorial

Who are the ‘vulnerable’ in Ireland today? There has been a lot of talk about ‘protecting the vulnerable’ in the lead up to the recent Budget. So many vested interests, politicians, trade unions and others now appropriate the word it begins to lose its sense of meaning. Yet within our society there are clearly people who are vulnerable, whose needs are not represented, whose concerns are urgent and whose voices are not heard.

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We tend to think that law defines what crime is. This makes sense because contemporary legal codes are concerned with marking out the territory where conduct is permissible by specifying the conduct that is outlawed. Yet the earliest bodies of law – consider for example, the Torah or Hammurabi’s Code – are at least as committed to articulating the good as proscribing the bad... 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.