Ireland remains ‘profoundly unequal’ 100-group strong march set to warn

Published by Niall Sargent on

September 25th, 2018

Despite our current economic prowess, Ireland remains a “profoundly unequal place”, the head of Social Justice Ireland has warned.

Speaking in advance of a march today to mark the third anniversary of the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Dr Sean Healy said that we need a “concerted all-of-government” approach to achieve the goals and reduce inequality.

The 17 SDGs, or global goals, seek to achieve over 150 targets aimed at ending poverty, protecting the planet, and ensuring prosperity for all people by 2030.

The event, which will begin on O’Connell Bridge at lunchtime today, comes just days after a sit-in protest on the city centre artery at the weekend over the escalating cost of living across the country.

Dr Healy said that the numbers of homeless, in poverty and waiting on hospital waiting lists are a clear sign that Ireland is a “profoundly unequal place”.

Leave no one behind

“Policymakers must acknowledge that a thriving economy is not a goal in itself, but a means to social development and well-being for all.

The event – part of a Global Day of Action – will bring together over 100 civil society groups under the Coalition 2030 umbrella to highlight the importance of the promise made by world leaders to Leave No One Behind.

The promise aims to ensure that the 17 goals can only be considered met if the poorest, most deprived and marginalised sectors of society are reached first.

Dr Healy said that “real progress” toward leaving no-one behind will require “robust policy coherence” across and within government departments.

This will ensure that Ireland’s actions in all areas of government “do not exacerbate inequality and exclusion”, Dr Healy added.

Environmental degradation

In July, a report from Coalition 2030 found that more work is needed by the Irish Government, especially in the areas of climate action and environmental protection.

Ireland’s National Mitigation Plan is criticized in the report for a lack of clear targets, while the National Implementation Plan on SDGs launched in April is said to have too many “significant” gaps between our ambition to act and actual implementation.

The Coalition report always points to the need for more ambitious solutions to tackle transport and agricultural emissions and calls for a ban on the use of fossil fuels.

The report also calls for the State to review current policies on agriculture and forestry to ensure that they coherent with environmental goals.

Michael Ewing of the Environmental Pillar – a coalition of national environmental groups – said that marginalised groups in society need to have their voices heard on how future plans and policies on the SDGs should look.

Marginalised voices

He added that environmental degradation impacts most on those already marginalised, and that meaningful participation across Irish society is “crucial to combat exclusion”.

“Marginalised groups need to have their voices represented and space for collaboration in plans, policies and commitments towards the SDGs,” he said.

The civil society groups will be joined by members of the Irish public, as well as ambassadors from Belgium, Malta and Spain.

The march will continue on to the Garden of Remembrance on Parnell Square where two young women living in Direct Provision will lead a spoken word performance.

Other major events took place across 123 countries today to press for the practical application of the SDGs. For example, the Tánaiste Simon Coveney joined the annual global Central Park concert in New York to mark the anniversary and will also speak at the 2018 Global Citizen Festival on Saturday.

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Niall Sargent

Niall is the Editor of The Green News. He is a multimedia journalist, with an MA in Investigative Journalism from City University, London