'We must not repeat the mistakes of a decade ago': Government urged to protect vulnerable citizens after Brexit

'We must not repeat the mistakes of a decade ago': Government urged to protect vulnerable citizens after Brexit

"We risk repeating the mistakes of the past, with devastating consequences". That's the warning issued about Ireland's economy after Britain leaves the EU.

A social justice think tank is calling on the government to ensure the most vulnerable in society are protected amid possible economic uncertainty after Brexit.

“The message from Social Justice Ireland to Minister Donohoe and to Government today is that a real Social Dialogue involving all sectors is required to work out the least damaging approaches to the challenges of Brexit, meeting our climate targets and international trade uncertainty. Without this we risk repeating the mistakes of the past, with devastating consequences” – Dr Seán Healy.

Speaking ahead of the National Economic Dialogue in Dublin Castle, Dr Seán Healy, director of Social Justice Ireland, said protecting the vulnerable must be the government's first priority.

"Brexit, whatever its outcome, will have serious down-sides for Ireland," Dr Healy said.

'We must not repeat the mistakes of a decade ago': Government urged to protect vulnerable citizens after Brexit

"Whatever these down-sides are, we need to continue doing the right thing: investing in our infrastructure and ensuring that the economy and society is in the strongest position possible so that we can deal with what comes."

He recommended that available resources are used to protect jobs and reduce the infrastructure gaps Ireland currently faces when compared with the EU-15.

“We must not repeat the mistakes of a decade ago in our response to the economic crash of 2008," Dr Healy said.

On that occasion we prioritised banks over the vulnerable, leading to much greater long-term problems than was necessary in areas such as unemployment, housing provision and rural development.

Economic and social analyst Eamon Murphy said the communities outside Dublin are in need of more support.

"The people, businesses and communities who will be most impacted by Brexit are outside of Dublin. The best means of supporting them involves investing in the regions that will be hit worst by Brexit and ensuring there is a platform for them to thrive," he said.

"This requires addressing the infrastructure gaps in terms of broadband, water infrastructure, housing and public transport. It also means putting resources into in our social and human capital."

Social Justice Ireland has recommended investing €496m in rural and regional development to help complete the rollout of high-quality rural broadband, as well as additional investment in rural transport, revitalising rural services, and the development of rural enterprise, local cooperatives and tourism, and increased funding for the community and voluntary sector.

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