Is Ireland a welfare state?


Jennifer Lawler
Jennifer Lawler

10.01 19 Feb 2019


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Part two of The Peter Casey Reports

Today in The Peter Casey Reports, we look at whether or not Ireland is a social welfare state.

During the presidential election Casey said Ireland was becoming welfare dependent, but four months on does he stand over the comment as he meets people reliant on social welfare?

During the campaign, Peter claimed the country was becoming a welfare dependent state.

In today's report, he explained: "I have said all along I am totally in favour of supporting people who need help.

"In order to have an effective welfare state, you have to be profitable. You can't be generous if you can't be profitable.

"The whole system is just not fit for purpose... [but] at no stage have I ever said we shouldn't have a welfare state."

'Bias against welfare'

As part of the report, Peter met with the prominent homelessness campaigner Father Peter McVerry.

Fr McVerry suggested it's important to change the image of welfare as a negative thing - and believes that the current welfare system doesn't go far enough.

He observed: "There is a bias against welfare.

"There is this ethos that welfare for many people is synonymous with giving people money to do nothing.

"The reality is that the vast bulk of welfare payments go to old age pensioners, or go to pay the pensions of teachers, nurses, gardaí, politicians and judges who are paid by the State during their working life.

"A lot of it goes to people who are in disability, or are not in a position to work."

He added: "Many of the people we work with, they haven't got a hope of getting a job. They left school early, they have no skills, they have no employment history."

'State has to be running a business'

Mr Casey observed: "I totally support the good work that Fr Peter's doing here, and we need more people like Fr Peter.

"But in order to have a welfare state - and absolutely there are people who need help and support - the State has to be running a business.

"What I was point out is there are people who are abusing the system, and I think that is wrong."

Fr McVerry responded that "every system" is abused, including when it comes to welfare.

However, he insisted the most significant abuse is in the taxation system - saying tax evasion is "far, far greater" than the scale of welfare abuse.

Economist Jim Power, meanwhile, claims social welfare is becoming unaffordable in Ireland.

He argued: "In terms of the broader social welfare system, I feel that any social welfare system which results in a person being better off out of work than in work... there is something deeply flawed about that.

"You do hear lot of anecdotal stories that people will not take jobs because they will lose all of their allowances, and financially they will be worse off."


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Barry Whyte Irish Culture Irish Economy Pat Kenny Peter Casey Social Welfare

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