Policies

Policies

It is our intention to develop policies in an inclusive way, calling on experience and expertise from every corner of Irish society – academics, users of public services, public and private sector workers, civil society groups, students, pensioners, and many more. To start the conversation, we’re outlining some policy areas that go to the heart of what the Social Democrats are about. We’ll be holding meetings, and are developing a digital platform to facilitate wide and meaningful input.

Strong Economy

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 Ireland’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.

Solving the Mortgage crisis

Ireland’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 Ireland’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

Supporting enterprise and good jobs

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

Open Government

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.

Open Decision Making

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 ‘Golden Circle’. 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

Better Politics

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 what’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 Taoiseach’s Department

Social Vision

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.

Focusing on children aged 0 to 6

We know that the early years of a child’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

Tackling the housing crisis

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