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#Covid19 and Programme for Government: No going back, new Government must show long term commitment

Published: Tuesday, April 14, 2020

The National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) today (Thursday, 9 April 2020) launched their Feminist Future Programme for Government document, saying there can be no going back and calling on the new Government to significantly invest in public services and infrastructure to build on the response to COVID 19.

Orla O’Connor, Director of NWCI said,  

 “This Programme for Government will shape our society for the next number of years, and will be crucial in determining how we rebuild after the Covid-19 pandemic.  In a crisis, we reach for good ideas. A single tier health system, moves toward public childcare, increased investment in combatting violence against women, an emergency rent freeze, an increase in the levels of social welfare payments have all been implemented in a number of weeks. We need to ensure these supports and services remain after the crisis to build a sustainable economy and tackle inequalities in our society.”


She continued,


“There must be no going back. Before Covid-19 hit, we had the highest childcare costs in Europe, one of the highest rates of women homelessness in Europe, only one third our recommended refuge spaces for women fleeing violence, and a two tier health system based on ability to pay and not health need. Now, it is critical that our Programme for Government shows a real commitment to address these issues with long term solutions.”

She continued, 

“Drafted in the midst of a global pandemic, the number one commitment in the Programme for Government must be the delivery of SláinteCare – a single tier health system based on need, not ability to pay. Women’s health is negatively impacted by our two-tier health system. Sláintecare provides a crucial opportunity to ensure everyone can access high-quality, affordable health services when they need to. The implementation of Sláintecare must prioritise low-income and marginalised women including Traveller and migrant women and women living in homelessness, who have the worst health outcomes and access to care.”

She said,

“State intervention in our childcare system during Covid-19 has shown just how much the system needs reform toward a comprehensive public model, where staff are paid at least a Living Wage. Women in Ireland want our new Government to commit to increase investment in affordable, quality, public childcare, supporting lone parents with targeted resources. The development of a public childcare model is crucial to rebuild our society and our economy.” 

She concluded,

“The epidemic levels of domestic abuse are stark, as women face increased dangers while isolating at home with abusers. Our new government must prioritise full implementation of the Istanbul Convention, including strengthening legislation and investing in frontline services, and ensuring Ireland has enough refuge places. The current provision of one third our recommended refuge spaces has never been acceptable, and is even less so now in a time of crisis.”   

NWCI’s Feminist Future Programme for Government document highlights the need or women’s experiences to be at the centre of a new programme for change and is also calling for a new model of social dialogue to collectively rebuild our society and meet the significant challenges ahead.

Available here:  https://www.nwci.ie/learn/publication/feminist_future_programme_for_government


For more information, please contact Sarah Clarkin, Communications and Social Media Coordinator, Tel. 085 861 9087 / Silke Paasche, Head of Communications, Tel, 085 858 0104.