Public Relations Officer
Trinity FLAC held a talk on proposals for the new Budget on Tuesday the 6th of October in association with with the Politics Society. The speakers included John Mark McCafferty (Head of Social Justice and Policy at the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul) Cormac Staunton (Policy analyst at TASC (Think-tank for Action on Social Change)), and Bob Jordan (Chief Executive of Threshold).Among the three various speakers, several themes emerged. Cormac Staunton, for instance, suggested that it is important to not lower taxes in order to protect the most vulnerable members of our society. Austerity is not an excuse to start cutting taxation. He also gave a brief history of what the budget was like in years past, and what it was like today. He stated that tax cuts to stimulate growth is a ‘high-risk’ strategy, a need for public investment and public services, and a re-balancing of the economy. John Mark McCafferty spoke of the Budget in the terms of the families his organisation assists. He noted the austerity measures of the past couple of years, and how this can be improved. He stated that certain aspects of our society still need significant investment – for example, a social housing program, or education. McCafferty also noted that it is very important to invest in pre-school education, as this is the foundation that will help children achieve more in the future academic endeavours. The underpinning phrase in his talk was ‘social justice’, something that he believes should be at the core of all policy decisions, that allows people to live with dignity. He stated that social justice should be at the center of the Budget, which will help our recovery. Bob Jordan was the last to speak – the core theme of his talk was homelessness. He also noted the important of Free Legal Advice, without which, in his opinion, homelessness would be a much bigger problem. He spoke of Threshold, the organisation he is a part of that attempts to end this problem. Jordan also gave some harrowing accounts of how this issue affects real people, including children, and how those who are without a home as children are more likely to be homeless as adults. All of this led to the point that welfare payments should be a priority, as it could help significantly reduce this issue. Jordan stressed that we should not make the same mistakes again in terms of the Budget – he said that social housing units should be an absolute priority if we are ever going to begin to address the issue of homelessness, a more flexible response from the State, and bypass emergency hostels and shelters (which in some Scandinavian countries are even seen as part of the problem).