Voters Guide

A Voter’s Guide

Questions about social and environmental justice from the perspective of Catholic Social Teaching.

General Election 8th February 2020  

The following questions were prepared by our Justice Desk ahead of the Irish general elections.                                                                                                                  


Poverty remains an entrenched problem in Ireland: over 689,000 people were at risk of poverty in 2018 (202,000 were children). Over 100,000 people at risk of poverty were actually in employment, and 78,000 were old age pensioners. 15 percent of the population experienced deprivation, rising to 42.7 percent among single parent households. (SILC Report, 2019)

Question for Candidates

  1. What actions will you take to tackle poverty in Ireland, especially child poverty?

Homelessness and Housing

How can anyone live a flourishing life without a home? In November 2019, 10,448 people were living in hotels, B&Bs, and family hubs across Ireland: 3,752 were children. (Homelessness Report, Nov 2019)

Questions for Candidates

  1. How will you manage the speedy exit of families from emergency accommodation?
  2. How will you prevent more families from losing their homes?

Policy decisions by Government impact house-prices, rent and supply. In the third quarter of 2019, the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) – subsidizing private landlords – accounted for an average of 66.5% of the total social housing output. Meanwhile, house builds remain considerably lower than necessary to meet demand. (Social Housing Output Overview – 2016 to 2019)

Questions for Candidates

  1. What alternatives to HAP do you propose for the stable provision of long-term homes?
  2. What is your policy on building more social housing?
  3. Would you support cost-rental developments, which set rent to cover the cost of the build instead of at the market rate?

Migrants Rights

Pope Francis has called on us to welcome, protect, promote, and integrate migrants and refugees. Direct Provision, which operates on a for-profit basis, and long waiting times in the international protection system continues to segregate and diminish people. Human trafficking is a widespread crime, and Ireland is a destination, source, and transit country. (Trafficking in Persons Report 2014)

Questions for Candidates

  1. Will you support additional resources to ensure that waiting times for first instance decisions are reduced to six months in line with the Asylum Procedures Directive?
  2. How will you provide ways for migrants, especially those in Direct Provision, to participate and contribute to society?
  3. What actions will you take to improve the lives of those in the asylum process?
  4. What steps will you take to ensure that human trafficking cannot happen in Ireland?

Fair Taxation and Investment

Ireland is a low-tax environment, especially for corporations: our corporation tax rate is only 12.5% but can fall to as low as zero. At the same time, we consistently have under-funded services and community amenities. Meanwhile a minimum effective rate of corporation tax of 6% would raise an estimated billion euro. (Social Justice Ireland)

Questions for Candidates

  1. How will you support the provision of services and public amenities that can be shared and enjoyed by all?
  2. What actions will you take to support a fair and sustainable taxation policy?

Climate Change and Our Environment

Ireland is a low performer on the Climate Change Performance Index and ranked 22nd among the European Union. As our climate is becoming ever more erratic, we are also seeing a collapse in biodiversity: a UN report warns that one million animal and plant species face extinction within decades. (Climate Change Performance Index; CSO, Environmentally Damaging Subsidies Report, 2016; IPBES Global Assessment on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, May 2019)

Questions for Candidates

  1. What carbon reduction measures do you propose in energy production, the transport system and agriculture?
  2. Better insulation would decrease homeowners’ energy bills by up to 30%, would you support the option to use the Household Fuel Allowance – received by 400,000 homes – to retrofit homes?
  3. Would you support a scheme to allow farmers to keep their farm payment for ecosystem restoration?
  4. What policies do you propose for a Just Transition for those whose livelihoods are affected by the action necessary to move Ireland towards carbon neutrality?

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