Make social policy inclusive from cradle to the grave, Varadkar told ahead of Galway lecture

Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar.

Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar.

Ahead of his delivery of the second Biennial Distinguished Lecture in Galway this evening, Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar has been asked to ensure that policy does not divide society into sectors and that it should be based on inclusivity from the cradle to the grave.

Minister Varadkar will deliver the second Biennial Distinguished Lecture at the Institute for Lifecourse and Society in NUI Galway this evening.

The biennial Distinguished Lecture Series, inaugurated by President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins in 2015, provides a forum for public engagement with the important work of the Institute, through the delivery of key Irish and international policymakers’ perspectives on how best to address societal issues in an Irish context.

Speaking before the event, Institute Director Professor Pat Dolan has highlighted the need to see the easing of austerity as an opportunity to provide better family support to those worst affected by the economic crisis over recent years in Ireland.

Welcoming Minister Varadkar’s engagement with the Institute, Professor Dolan highlighted that within European policy and headline targets, public debate is often focused on very narrow ideas of what exclusion, and hence inclusion, are, and how we need to combat it.

“There is currently an overemphasis on economic dimensions, with sometimes a misguided focus on labour market participation as the sole means of lifting people out of poverty and exclusion. This has the damaging effect of isolating many vulnerable sectors of our population, including children, people with disability and older adults.

“To be effective, policy shouldn’t divide society into sectors, but should look at inclusivity from cradle to grave. In recent years, for example, we have seen the positive impact on young people of prevention and early intervention initiatives delivered within the community.

“Such approaches can be replicated for other sectors of society, such as older adults, to support rather than disrupt family lives by empowering communities and reducing the need for institutional care.”

This afternoon’s event will see the second of the Institute’s Distinguished Lectures delivered by Minister Varadkar, who will outline priorities in the area of social inclusion, in addition to remarks in response by Dr Michelle Millar, Senior Research Fellow at ILAS who has completed extensive research on lone parents.

The Institute for Lifecourse and Society is the home for applied social sciences at NUI Galway and focuses on issues related to lifecourse and societal issues.

It represents a significant and innovative development, in that it brings together interdisciplinary expertise to address the dynamic challenges that face and implicate potentially marginalised sections of our population, at different points in their lives. Engaging in research, community engagement, practice and education, and policy.

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