A Better Ireland is possible: Towards an alternative vision for Ireland.
Murphy, Mary and Kirby, Peadar (2008) A Better Ireland is possible: Towards an alternative vision for Ireland. Community Platform, Challenging Poverty and Inequality .
At the very heart of our ambition as civil society organisations is a commitment and belief that a more equitable, just and inclusive Ireland is possible. The members of the Community Platform are motivated by a vision for Ireland in which development means an increasingly fair society, and in which democracy is defined by participation, engagement and pluralism. The civil society organisations that comprise the Community Platform share a commitment to creating a more just and equal society, as well as the capacity to generate alternative solutions. We recognise that we have a responsibility to drive and to contribute to the emerging debate on the nature of Irish society and democracy, which moves beyond current realities to foster genuinely creative responses to new and intransigent socio-economic challenges. The Community Platform commissioned Dr Mary Murphy and Professor Peadar Kirby to write this paper to inform this process. We asked the authors to critically examine existing models of development and responses to exclusion and inequality, assessing progress to date, and to present their analysis of alternative models of development that Ireland could draw on. They have succeeded in presenting a paper that poses many challenges and raises questions for everyone concerned with anti-poverty, social inclusion and equality in Ireland. The paper explores the Irish economic success story that has dominated debate over the last decade, assesses the level of inequality that it has left in its wake, and speculates about the general acceptance of this disparity. It raises questions about the sustainability and values that underpin that model of economic development in Ireland. The paper addresses the role of civil society, from the perspective of how it engages with the state, how the state has sought to define that relationship, and the implications this has for civil society organisations. It interrogates the role of the state and the commonly held impression of a benign and capable state committed to a project of national economic and social development. Murphy and Kirby point out that those driven to ensure that the market and market friendly policies are an end in themselves rather than a means, have won hands down the battle for ideas in Ireland. of an alternative, more sustainable and equitable model of development. Drawing on international practice and outlining a number of alternative models of development the authors seek to stimulate discussion about a more just and equitable model of development. Perhaps most importantly, they prompt us to begin to consider the values that should inform any future sustainable model of development. Never has this challenge been more urgent, as governments all over Europe and the world move to privatise profit and socialise loss. What the world is now witnessing is much more than limited market failure, what we are seeing is the systemic collapse of market capitalism, and in particular financial capitalism. These realities have implications for Ireland’s development model, and in the wake of Budget 2009 this paper seeks to contribute to articulating a ‘better Ireland’. Everyday members of the Community Platform work for and with children, women and men for whom the challenge of voicing an alternative vision for Ireland is not a theoretical luxury, but a very real, practical and urgent necessity. This paper concludes that a better Ireland is possible and asks us all to step up to the challenge of ensuring that it becomes a reality. In a mature democracy - one that values pluralism, diversity and governance - everyone has the right to participate in generating an alternative vision, and everyone shares the responsibility in ensuring we succeed.
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