Articles tagged with: Poverty and Inequality

Working Notes Issue 49 Editorial

on Tuesday, 07 December 2004. Posted in Issue 49 The Garda Síochána Bill 2004 (Somone will be watching you!), 2004

November 2004

Dear Reader,

On 8th October 2004 the Minister of State responsible for Overseas Development, Conor Lenihan TD, was quoted in Irish newspapers as saying that ‘there has to be an element of realism' regarding Ireland's commitment for achieving the UN target for overseas development aid by 2007, given that ‘we've had two years of retrenchment in the public finances'.

Connecting Debt and Trade

on Tuesday, 07 December 2004. Posted in Issue 49 The Garda Síochána Bill 2004 (Somone will be watching you!), 2004

November 2004

Connecting Debt and Trade from a Development Perspective
Peter Henriot SJ*

How Do We Define ‘Development\'?

Before examining the connections between debt and trade, it is worthwhile to reflect on what we mean when we talk about a ‘development perspective\'. It is now widely accepted that economic models that are not people-centred have led us to the current global crisis of deepening poverty, degradation of rights, destruction of the environment and increased danger of conflict and terrorism.

Do Poor Children Deserve Perfect Teeth?

on Wednesday, 30 July 2003. Posted in Issue 31 Do Poor Children Deserve Perfect Teeth?, 1998

Bill Toner, SJ

March 1998


The current debate about the availability of free orthodontic treatment for children may seem a fairly trivial issue, compared with other problems facing our society. Yet it raises serious questions about our values, our priorities and our standards. Basically the background to this issue is that throughout the western world people are setting themselves ever more exacting standards in regard to personal appearance. Due to increased resources and new medical technology, \'blemishes\' which are accepted by one generation as a fact of life become less socially acceptable. Many conditions which are often \'corrected\' nowadays (such as eye squint, birthmark and hare-lip) were not always attended to in the past. For older people who can afford them there are a whole range of cosmetic \'improvements\' available, such as \'face-lifts\', hair replacement, silicon implants in breasts and so on. Currently there is a particular focus is on teeth. It appears that today\'s image-makers have decided that straight even teeth, with no gaps, should be the norm. This new standard is probably much influenced by American television, particularly soaps like Friends and Baywatch.

Falling between two pillars: The prospect for pensioners in Ireland?

Written by Eugene Quinn on Friday, 04 July 2003. Posted in Issue 42 Pensions Time Bomb? Equity and Justice in the Pensions Regime, 2002


Eugene Quinn, an actuary working part-time with the CFJ, examines issues of equity and justice in the pensions regime.
1.      Introduction
Pensions are important to everybody. There is widespread public myopia with regard to the importance of pensions, as the consequences of neglect are so distant. For the vast majority of the population however pensions will be the chief determinant of their income in their old age. Our choices now, both as individuals and as a society, will affect how we will live as we get older. Will we have enough to live with security and dignity in a society with higher expectations of life? Will there be large income inequalities between the rich and poor of our elderly?

Budget 2004 – Small Change for the Poor

on Thursday, 18 December 2003. Posted in Issue 47 Budget 2004: Preserving a Divided Society?, 2003

Robin Hanan

December 2003


The day after Budget 2004, the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern TD, was on the defensive. The Budget, he declared, would dispel the myth that this was a right-wing Government which cared only for its rich friends. He talked about the increase in social welfare payments and the concentration of income tax cuts on the incomes of the lowest paid, particularly those at the minimum wage.

In spite of the unpopularity of the Government, he might just get away with it. The media found so little that was contentious that it was the announcement in the Budget speech of the decentralisation of government departments that became the focus of attention.

Economics and Justice

on Thursday, 18 December 2003. Posted in Issue 47 Budget 2004: Preserving a Divided Society?, 2003

Eithne Fitzgerald

December 2003


©D. Speirs

Equity and wider human well being must be central concerns in a just economic order

Economics - Value Free?

Economics is central to public policy and economic policy affects centrally the lives of citizens. Economics allows us to explore the likely outcomes of particular economic activities and to examine how policy impacts on different groups in society - who benefits and who loses - and to come up with proposals for change.


Poverty And Inequality

on Saturday, 05 July 2003. Posted in Issue 41 For Richer for Poorer: Three Issues of Fairness?, 2001

The picture about what has happened to poverty in Ireland during the economic boom of the 1990s is now fairly clear. It can be summed up quite simply. The poor have been getting richer, but they are falling further and further behind the rest of Irish society because everyone else has been getting richer at a much faster pace than they have.

The poor have been getting richer….
At the beginning of the economic boom in 1994, over one in every six Irish people earned less than 72 pounds a week in today\'s money. That amount of money is equal to 60% of what an average Irish person earned in 1987 at today\'s prices.

Retired Self-Employed

on Saturday, 05 July 2003. Posted in Issue 38 Dying on the Streets, 2000

Mary Purcell lives in a rural parish in the West of Ireland.

Bill Toner S.J. is Director of the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice, Dublin.

A Penny-Pinching Pension Scheme

Social Insurance for self-employed persons was introduced in 1988.  This was a progressive move, long overdue.   Before the change, people who chose the option of becoming self-employed people were more at risk of insecurity and poverty in old age than those employed by others.  Many thousands of self-employed, from small shopkeepers to bicycle repair men, were too poor to be able to negotiate their own personal insurance schemes and in old age they became a burden, grudgingly borne, on the state.  In fact, notwithstanding the above title, many of the group on which this article focuses are not actually ‘retired’ since they cannot afford to retire.  But they are at the age at which most of their fellow-citizens have retired.

Must The Poor Always Be With Us?

on Sunday, 06 July 2003. Posted in Issue 37 Community Development in the Age of the Celtic Tiger, 2000

Tom Giblin, SJ

May 2000


Cherry Orchard Blossoms

Living in Cherry Orchard these past few years offers a window on the changing face of inequality in Ireland of the Celtic Tiger. A few things strike me as I travel each day from where I live to where I work in U.C.D. There are many more people going out to work in Cherry Orchard than four years ago. More of them are travelling in cars, some of them new. Some of those whom I see coming and going to work are people who, five years ago, I would not have predicted would ever find employment. The opportunities simply were not there.

The Dependency Culture: A Good or a Bad Thing?

on Wednesday, 30 July 2003. Posted in Issue 32 The 'Dependency Culture': A Good or a Bad Thing?, 1998

Bill Toner, SJ

July 1998


The other day I listened to a middle-class woman sounding off about the \'dependency culture\'. She complained in particular about people who "did not need to go out to work" because they were surviving very well on unemployment assistance or lone parent allowance, rent allowance, back-to-school allowances, medical card and so on. She resented the fact that these benefits were partly funded from her own income tax payments

Community Development in the Age of the Celtic Tiger

on Sunday, 06 July 2003. Posted in Issue 37 Community Development in the Age of the Celtic Tiger, 2000

Bill Toner, SJ

May 2000


Some dreadful planning decisions and environmental blunders were made in Irish cities between the 1930s and the end of the 1960s. It is hard to imagine them taking place today. For instance, there is no possibility that the authorities in Northern Ireland would today be allowed to drive a motorway through the middle of Belfast, effectively cutting it in two. No local authority would now be allowed to design an area like Drimnagh in Dublin, a development of over 5,000 houses built in the thirties without a single green space. The destruction of part of Georgian Dublin\'s Fitzwilliam Street, to build new offices for the E.S.B., could not happen today.

Training Bottlenecks Hitting Skilled Trades

on Thursday, 31 July 2003. Posted in Issue 36 Cherishing our Old Folk, 1999

Bill Toner, SJ

December 1999


The recent survey of vacancies by FÁS and Forfas shows that among the occupations most in demand by the Celtic Tiger are skilled maintenance and skilled production workers. At present there are no fewer than 8,100 vacancies for these grades in the Republic. This will come as no surprise to anyone who has tried to get a fitter or electrician or bricklayer to do a small job. In a recent survey, employers reported that the job of skilled tradesperson was the most difficult job to fill. Many tradespersons are being recruited from overseas. The kind of jobs included in this group include electricians, fitters, electronic workers, welders, bricklayers, carpenters and many others.

A European Exchange: People in Poverty - Partners in Europe

on Tuesday, 23 September 2003. Posted in Issue 46 The Prisons and the Gardai: A Case for Independent Review, 2003

September 2003

Stuart Williams joined ATD Fourth World in 1971  He and his wife Isabelle have been present in Ireland for four years.

"People like that need our help…"

It\'s nothing new, to hear a sentiment like this expressed about people in poverty. Yet it was the speaker and the person about whom this was said that made this recent comment so striking. The speaker, a Traveller living in a temporary site in Dublin, was referring to an Irish Member of the European Parliament she had just met and who she felt needed support from people like her in his efforts to campaign against poverty and social exclusion in Europe.


Sustaining Work, Prosperity and Fairness.

on Tuesday, 18 February 2003. Posted in Issue 45 Social Partnership: Is it a Just Structure?, 2003

Brendan MacPartlin, SJ

The social partnership process emerged in Ireland at a time of crisis and has been closely associated with recovery and transformation in the Irish social economy.  The names of the six social partnership programmes of the past sixteen years suggest some of key concerns  of the time  – recovery, progress, work , competitiveness, partnership, prosperity, fairness and sustainability. The notion of fairness came more strongly into focus in recent years and the latest programme, Sustaining Progress, proposes in its vision for Ireland that the foundations of a successful society incorporates a commitment to social justice.  If justice is that virtue that intends to give everyone his/her due then social justice is probably the virtue that gives everyone in society his/her due.  It was clear in the run up to the agreement of Sustaining Progress that many did not think they were getting their fair dues.  So clearly we are not in a position to claim that the outcomes are totally fair.  In this article I will try to use traditional ideas about justice and make the case that social partnership is characterised by justice in its process to an extent that it is a practice worth maintaining and developing.

And so this is Christmas...?

on Thursday, 18 December 2003. Posted in Issue 47 Budget 2004: Preserving a Divided Society?, 2003


Cathy Molloy

December 2003


Amidst the hustle and bustle of Christmas many people find themselves drawing breath now and again and wondering what it is all about. On the one hand, there is the exhilaration of the \'season of goodwill\', the decorations and seasonal music to brighten all our lives, the getting together with friends or colleagues or family, the special food and present-giving that lifts us right out of the ordinary humdrum existence of short days and long winter nights. Where would we be without it? On the other hand, there are constant reminders that Christmas is not a joyous fun-time for everyone. Loneliness and poverty, homelessness, isolation, hunger and sickness can be exacerbated at Christmastime and we are fairly bombarded with requests to include others at home and far away in our way of celebrating the great Christian feast. And so we should be.

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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.