Question:- “Tackling poverty and social exclusion is one of the major challenges facing Irish society.” Discuss this statement giving reference to the causes of poverty & social exclusion in contemporary Ireland and the policy measures which intend to overcome this situation.
The Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP) represents a major component of Ireland’s community development strategy, led by the Department of Rural and Community Development (DRCD).1 Pobal managed the initial set-up and design phase of the social inclusion programme and has responsibility for a wide range of programme functions. The SICAP programme budget for 2016 was €35.8 million. SICAP aims to tackle poverty, social exclusion and inequality through local engagement and partnerships between disadvantaged individuals, community organisations and public sector agencies. In order for SICAP to succeed in meeting its goal, it is important that the programme can successfully target the individuals who are most in need of assistance. The purpose of this study is to provide an in-depth analysis of the extent to which SICAP clients experience potential barriers to economic and social inclusion. We focus on five key potential barriers, which reflect some of the groups explicitly targeted under SICAP and have also been shown internationally to represent significant challenges to inclusion. They are: (a) belonging to a jobless household, (b) being a lone parent, (c) having a disability, (d) being homeless or affected by housing exclusion and (e) belonging to an ethnic minority. The aim of this study is to inform policy by shedding light on a number of issues: 1. individual characteristics that are most common among individuals reporting potential barriers to social inclusion; 2. the extent to which the incidence of potential barriers varies according to spatial dimensions such as the area level of deprivation, population density or urbanicity; 3. potential implications of the findings for the future administration of the SICAP programme.