‘New social contract’ welcomed by Social Justice Ireland

FF-FG programme for government most significant, says St Vincent de Paul

Social Justice Ireland has welcomed what it described as "the decision to put a new social contract and a focus on the wellbeing of Irish people at the heart of the FF/FG framework for a new programme for government ".

This was “very welcome as is the assertion that there is no going back to the old way of doing things”, said Dr Seán Healy, Social Justice Ireland chief executive.

“The fact that the framework recognises the need for new, credible, quality-of-life measures of individual and societal wellbeing and progress, suggests that the next programme for government will go beyond economic priorities and targets and take a more holistic approach in its decision-making. Such a development would be very welcome,” he said.

A final version of the programme for government “should include a much greater emphasis on the need for real social dialogue – involving all stakeholders, not just some – to create consensus on what Ireland’s new social contract should look like, and how it is to be achieved,” he said.

‘Living wage’

Meanwhile, the St Vincent de Paul has said the next programme for government will be the most significant in modern Irish history.

The framework document published on Wednesday by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil included "a number of welcome commitments such as delivering a living wage for workers, a reiteration of the importance of implementing Sláintecare and a recognition that a housing-first approach is the best way to address family homelessness", St Vincent de Paul social policy development officer Tricia Keilthy said.

‘Social floor’

"Faced with economic uncertainty, we cannot repeat the mistakes of the past and we need a legislative basis that creates a minimum social floor for all citizens that no one is expected to fall below. The Society of St Vincent de Paul are asking the next government to follow the example of Canada, Scotland and New Zealand and introduce a Poverty Reduction Act."

For people “still carrying the scars of the last recession, another economic shock will harm them further, unless safeguards are put in place”.

The pandemic had also brought into focus “the crucial contribution many people in low-paid jobs make to our society. Food, retail, delivery, health and social care workers are being called on to deliver critical frontline services for our country. Ireland would not be able to weather this storm without these vital workers, so we must ensure all have decent pay and conditions after the crisis has ended,” she said.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is Religious Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times

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