Survey shows inequality, tax dodging and gender gap as key election issues

The data has been unveiled by Oxfam Ireland and the National Women's Council

Survey, general election, issues, GE16, Oxfam Ireland, National Women’s Council of Ireland, pay

Pictured are (clockwise) Oxfam Ireland chief executive Jim Clarken (centre) with election candidates Carol Hunt (Independent Alliance), Brid Smith (Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit), John Lyons (Labour), Lorraine Clifford-Lee (Fianna Fail), Eoin O Broin (Sinn Fein) and NWCI director Orla O'Connor | Image: Photocall Ireland

A new survey from Oxfam Ireland has found that eight out of ten (81%) Irish people want politicians to make inequality a key issue in the general election.

Some 82% agree that the next Taoiseach should prioritise tackling inequality in the new programme for government - specifically addressing tax dodging, equal pay and access to healthcare.

It revealed almost 8 out 10 people believe the gap between the richest and the rest of society is widening.

The Empathy Research survey was launched by Oxfam Ireland and the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI).

Oxfam Ireland chief executive Jim Clarken said: "This survey confirms that rising inequality is clearly at the forefront of Irish people’s minds as they prepare to go the polls".

"We live in a world where the richest 1% own more wealth than everyone else put together. Ordinary working families are up against odds that are impossible to beat and poorer people are paying the biggest price for rapidly increasing inequality".

"Inequality is not inevitable - it is the result of policy choices. The upcoming general election offers an important opportunity to shape a recovery that includes everyone", he added.

Rising gender pay gap

Director of the NWCI, Orla O'Connor, added: "NWCI are calling on the next government to prioritise equality budgeting and serious investment in public services".

"Tackling violence against women, delivery of quality health and maternity services, and providing a universal pension are all essential for women’s equality and all dependent on the resources being invested".

"Equal pay is a major concern highlighted in the survey and in Ireland the gender pay gap has actually risen".

"A majority of those on low pay or insecure part time contracts are women with 50% now earning €20,000 or less. This negative spiral must be halted and reversed", she added.

84% of Irish adults believe that women in Ireland being paid over 14% less than men is unfair, with women stronger in this belief than men (92% vs 74%).

The NWCI is calling for an end to the gender pay gap to be named as a goal within the new programme for government.

The survey also shows growing concern about large-scale tax dodging with more than eight out of ten (86%) of people believing that big companies and wealthy individuals are using tax loopholes to dodge paying their fair share of taxes.

And 83% agreed that tax dodging means vital public services like schools and hospitals in Ireland are suffering.