A chara, – Political editor Stephen Collins (Opinion, December 1st) stated “the Irish State has managed better than any other in the EU to protect the most vulnerable sectors in society from the worst hardships” endured during the course of fiscal correction.
Given that successive governments have refused to undertake impact analyses, which would provide information on how “vulnerable sectors” have fared since the beginning of the economic crisis, it is difficult to accept Collins’s statement, nevermind the certainty it seeks to convey.
The truth is that the State does not know how different sections of Irish society are impacted by governments’ economic policies, as the relevant disaggregated data haven’t been collected, and impact assessments have not been conducted.
Moreover, the limited research that is being done (eg by independent think tank Tasc), clearly highlights the disproportionate and repeated disadvantaging of certain groups, such as lone parents, and captures drastic increases in inequality over recent years. Unlike other countries, which include equality or gender-proofing as a logical and necessary part of economic policy-making, planning, and review, Ireland remains – perhaps wilfully – ignorant of the equality outcomes of policies introduced by government.
Unless the Irish State adopts equality-proofing as a standard practice applicable to all economic policies, it will continue to lack the relevant information to establish how vulnerable groups are affected. One would be wise to refrain from proclaiming the first-rate protection of “vulnerable sectors” until such time. – Is mise,
Dr CLARA FISCHER,
On behalf of Equality
C/o Poolbeg Street, Dublin 2.
Cross-posted from the Irish Times, 5th December 2012
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