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Essay 2013 Title: Discuss the influence of the Catholic Church on Irish Social Policy
This essay examines the influence of the Catholic Church on Irish Social Policy. This essay will focus on the Church’s role as a provider of charity. It seeks to address the following questions: How does one define social policy? Why did strong ties exist between The Catholic Church and the Irish State? Why did the Catholic Church endorse the principle of subsidiarity? What key policies are evident of Catholic influence?
How does one define Social Policy? According to Titmuss (1974) Social Policy includes “Social administration, Social security, social services and social welfare”. The development of such policies are a response at governmental level to meet specific needs in society .These needs tend to relate to areas such as health, education, housing ,employment. Voluntary and local groups play an important role in delivering certain social services which should not overlooked.
Social policy seeks “to meet human needs and to respond to the risks human beings face”(Considine and Dukelow,p.xx1,2009) . Complexities arise from defining, what these risks and needs .In order to implement social policy, resources are required. In times of limited resources constraints are enforced on social policy. Resources are provided by means of taxation, both direct (income tax) and indirect tax ( VAT).The accumulation of various taxations are then redistributed and fund social policy.
It could be argued that social policy seeks to tackle Beveridge’s“5 giant evils” ignorance, want, squalor, disease and idleness equating to education, poverty,health,unemployment and housing ,ironically still evident in Irish society almost seventy after the Beveridge report was published.
In order to fully comprehend the vast influence the Catholic Church had on social policy, it is necessary to examine the commonalities shared by the church and the state. The strong relations between The Arch bishop Charles McQuaid and De Valera initiated this long standing connection. De Valera’s conservative values, resistance towards industrialisation and strong nationalistic tendencies were shared by the Irish Catholic church. McQuaid played a role in amending the 1937 constitution; Article 44.2 illustrates the granting of a “special position” to the Catholic Church (Considine and Dukelow, 2009).
Mutualism was at the heart of this relationship as will be further explored in this paper. The state gained by having less financial responsibility as the main service provider, while the Catholic Church benefited by being permitted to maintain its power and to propagate the faith.
The Catholic church has been closely linked to the provision of charity in particular since the introduction of the first social policy in Ireland, namely The poor law in 1838 (Considine and Dukelow, 2009).Britain had implemented the Poor law in 1601, “outdoor relief” was provided to the needy including the able bodied, in 1834 the act was amended as its was deemed to be too “lenient” and costly “An act for the Amendment and Better Administration of the Laws relating to the Poor in England and Wales”(ibid.,p. 8). Chadwick and Senior who investigated the Poor Law in Britain viewed the provision assistance under the 1601 act as encouraging pauperism as it included the able bodied.
Based on “principle of less eligibility” workhouses were specifically aimed at the able bodied, conditions were extremely harsh ,one had to be destitute to avail of this form of indoor relief .The principle aim of outdoor relief (workhouses) was to deter the poor from availing of relief. Harsh conditions were incorporated into the workhouse ethos in the hope that only the destitute would avail...