We held our Annual Conference and AGM on Wednesday 24th May at the Ashling Hotel, Dublin. This was the first in-person ADC/AGM since 2019 and we would like to sincerely thank all the representatives from our member organisations that attended this event.
The Conference Opening Address was delivered by Fr. Peter McVerry. Peter delivered a very thought-provoking speech which highlighted the growing orthodoxy that requires us to believe that we need more and more goods and services, that self-sufficiency is the ideal state and that our independence and security depend on what we possess. Peter outlined that, in this world, there is no ceiling to what we should possess and that the everyone for themselves mantra has been transformed into a virtue and the common good is secondary to capital accumulation. Peter also outlined that the antidote to this was solidarity.
In his response, John Stewart, INOU Co-ordinator, advised that our Welfare Rights Information Service had dealt with over 7,000 queries in 2022, with a significant number from people facing homelessness. John also referred to the cost of accommodation which is beyond so many people and advised that the work of the Peter McVerry Trust and other similar organisations is making a difference and transforming many people’s lives. John wished Peter and all at the Trust well in their work and added that the INOU looked forward to deepening links with the Trust in the period ahead.
In addition to formally agreeing the Financial and Annual Reports, and reinstating our Auditors, Browne, Murphy and Hughes for a further year, the Conference also elected four members to the National Executive Committee (NEC). We would like to congratulate Mick Creedon, Joanne Farrell, Philip Fitzsimons, Mary Smith and Evanne Kilmurray on their election to the NEC. We would also like to thank Liam Shortall, INOU General Branch, who stood down from the NEC.
At the ADC/AGM, Delegates discussed four motions that had been proposed. Two motions proposed by the INOU General Branch were discussed and agreed. The first motion called on the Government to extend the eligibility criteria for participation on Community Employment and the second motion called for the Department of Social Protection to ensure that all unemployed people are properly informed about their options and supports available.
Two NEC motions were also agreed – the first a call on the Government to benchmark all social welfare rates at a level which is sufficient to lift people above the poverty line and provide them with a Minimum Essential Standard of Living and the second, a call on the Government to deliver wrap around employment and support services regardless of whether the person is in receipt of a social protection payment.
The round table element of Conference also featured a very good discussion on the challenges facing organisations and unemployed people in the context of falling unemployment and increased employment and impact of the cost of living increases on unemployed people and other groups that are reliant on social welfare.