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Thornton Hall Prison: Solution or Problem?

John on the Prison Carousel Having completed a nine-month sentence, John was released from Mountjoy Prison in March 2007. For the entire duration of his imprisonment, John was ‘on protection’, because of fears for his safety. This meant that he spent twenty-three, and sometimes almost twenty-four, hours each day locked up in a cell on… Read more »


A Horrible Warning? Lessons for Ireland from Michael Moore’s Film, Sicko

Introduction Michael Moore’s film, Sicko, now on general release, dramatically highlights how the wealthiest country in the world, and one which spends a much larger percentage of its GDP on health than other developed countries, fails to provide an adequate and fair system of care for its citizens. The film carries its message through people’s… Read more »


Poverty and Inequality

Ireland has seen a dramatic economic boom over the past decade, with unprecedented levels of growth in employment and living standards. Unemployment has fallen very sharply and substantial numbers of migrants have been attracted to Ireland to work. Despite this, the numbers ‘at risk of poverty’ have grown – the ‘risk of poverty’ being a key measure of poverty among the EU’s indicators of social inclusion.1 There has also been considerable concern expressed about rising inequality and about core features of the strategy adopted by the Government to combat poverty.


Housing and Homelessness

If, as predicted, the number of new houses built during 2007 shows a decline on the 2006 figure, this will represent a notable break with the significant upward trend in housing construction that has been such a feature of the past decade. Whereas 26,500 houses and apartments were built in 1995, the number rose to 49,812 in 2000 and to 93,419 in 2006. In other words, housing output in 2006 was more than 250 per cent higher than in 1995.



Everyone agrees that ‘health’ will be one of the major issues in the coming General Election. In reality, however, it is not health but health services that will be the focus of debate. But the state of the nation’s health ought to merit some serious attention, and some promises of action, by those who would aspire to form the next government.


Educational Disadvantage

If you are a child or young person attending school in a disadvantaged area of Dublin, there is a 30 per cent chance that you will leave primary school with a serious literacy problem;1 only a 50:50 chance that you will sit your Leaving Certificate,2 and a 90 per cent probability that you will not go to college.3 In contrast, if you are a child or young person whose parents are from a professional background and you live in a prosperous part of Dublin, you have only a 10 per cent chance of leaving primary school with a serious literacy problem, you will almost certainly complete your Leaving Certificate and be part of the 86 per cent of young people in your area who go to college.



In its report, Migration in an Interconnected World, the Global Commission on International Migration noted: International migration has risen to the top of the global policy agenda. As the scale, scope and complexity of the issue has grown, states and other stakeholders have become aware of the challenges and opportunities presented by international migration.


Crime and Prisons

Tough on Crime or Tough on Criminals? While it may be difficult to predict the outcome of the forthcoming General Election, it is somewhat easier to make accurate predictions about the issues that will surface as the election campaign unfolds. Crime will almost certainly feature prominently and we can safely expect that the political parties… Read more »


Climate Change

If the Dáil we elect at the forthcoming General Election lasts a full term, it will oversee the whole five-year period of Ireland’s commitment under the Kyoto Protocol (2008–2012). It will also cover the period during which the international negotiations to agree new and more challenging commitments to reduce our climate-changing pollution will be conducted.


Alcohol and Drugs

One of the notable features of prosperous Ireland has been its level of spending on alcohol and illegal drugs. The Strategic Task Force on Alcohol report of 2004 calculated that the country’s annual expenditure on alcohol of nearly €6 billion of personal income in 2002 represented €1,942 for every person over fifteen years of age.1… Read more »