It is our intention to develop policies in an inclusive way, calling on experience and expertise from every corner of Irish society Ã¢â‚¬â€œ academics, users of public services, public and private sector workers, civil society groups, students, pensioners, and many more. To start the conversation, weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re outlining some policy areas that go to the heart of what the Social Democrats are about. WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be holding meetings, and are developing a digital platform to facilitate wide and meaningful input.
A strong society needs a vibrant economy. We must protect and create good quality, stable employment. This must be backed up with sound fiscal policy and long-term economic planning. This includes responsible budgeting and tackling public and private debt. It means continuing IrelandÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s success in foreign direct investment, and replicating it for Irish businesses, both big and small. Financial policy should, and can, benefit the many, ensuring recovery not just for some, but for all.
IrelandÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s mortgage crisis was allowed grow larger, and go on longer, than in any other country. It continues to condemn hundreds of thousands of people to being trapped in debt, and slows IrelandÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s economic recovery. Here are some changes that would go a long way to helping people in mortgage distress:
Reducing bankruptcy to one year and insolvency to three years
Providing financial and legal expertise and representation to borrowers in distress
Making sure restructuring offers are similar across the banks and are sustainable for borrowers
Getting the mortgage-to-rent scheme working
Ireland has all the talent, creativity and work ethic needed to create a thriving and sustainable economy. We need to get better at unleashing this potential. As our economy recovers, we must focus on building and expanding Irish businesses, creating good jobs and investing in the skills of our people. Some of the many things we can do include:
Streamlining administrative complexities for SMEs
Improving social protection for entrepreneurs and the self-employed
Introducing a flexible rates regime that includes factors other than property value
Ending of zero-hour contracts and improving job security
It is often said we are a good country in spite of our political system. We believe we can be a great country because of it. We will undertake wholesale, meaningful reform of the political system, so that it serves the people, rather than the political establishment. This starts with developing a culture centred on openness and transparency.
We want to introduce a culture of open decision-making, where public resources are allocated on the basis of need. Our system needs to embrace a culture of transparency and champion open data. Doing this leads to better outcomes and helps end politics for the Ã¢â‚¬ËœGolden CircleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢. Measures include:
Publishing evidence-based criteria for major resource allocation decisions
Abolishing the Official Secrets Act, replacing it with a modern approach
Legislating for disclosure of civil service advice to Ministers
Ending the political appointment of judges
Monitoring stringently the impact of public sector programmes
We need a radical programme of reform to make our political institutions fit for purpose. For this to happen, one of the things we need is a parliament that can represent the people that chose it, one that can actually legislate, and can hold the Cabinet to account. Some of whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s required for this includes:
Establishing an Electoral Commission to act as a powerful watchdog on politics
Electing the Ceann Comhairle by secret ballot
Strengthening the committee system
Reducing the power of the whip
Abolishing the Economic Management Council
Establishing a forward-planning and implementation unit in the TaoiseachÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Department
We want to build a Republic of Equals, where every person has the opportunity to reach their potential. The recent trend of growing inequality can be reversed. Targeted poverty reduction and development supports need to be introduced, based on international evidence of what works. Long-term social planning needs to be introduced, ensuring our communities are vibrant and sustainable.
We know that the early years of a childÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s life are the most important. Pro-active prevention and early intervention strategies allow every child to reach their potential and benefit society as a whole. A major priority for us will be to give every child the best possible start. This requires adequate support for parents and high-quality public health and childcare services for all, with additional initiatives for families in communities where there are additional needs. Measures include:
Extending, progressively, the period of paid parental leave to 12 months
Raising the quality and affordability of childcare through increased capitation rates linked to standards, and extension of access to free pre-school provision
Establishing Early Childhood Health and Wellbeing clinics with enhanced family support services
Committing to breaking the cycle of inequality by building on effective strategies that improve outcomes for children and families in disadvantaged communities
Ireland needs to move beyond a bricks and mortar approach to housing policy. We will create and offer a variety of models for housing, to include home ownership, public rental options and private rental options that each offer security of tenure, certainty of cost and appropriate safeguards to ensure the right to a secure home is prioritised. Some measures required include:
Developing a National Housing and Land Strategy, including dealing with homelessness, land supply issues and planning law
Increasing supply of social and affordable housing through accessing EIB funds, attracting institutional investors, and expanding the Financial Contribution Scheme for Older Persons
Legislating to promote security of tenure and rent certainty, including constitutional change if necessary
We hope to meet you all at the virtual socs fair and talk to you about the society and what you would like to do. We will try to be there as much as possible, however we might not be able to do so on Tuesday between 2pm and 3pm. Hopefully, we can see you all later and feel free to join the society and send us a message to say hi!
We are currently planning some weekly events for the society, which will be decided with the incoming committee. We hope to have a new topic every month and host some movie/book clubs based on the monthly topic, as well as discussing relevant policies.
Contact us here: firstname.lastname@example.org