Podcast on Declan Costello, Fine Gael and the Just Society


You can listen to the full podcast here.

Declan Costello, son of former Taoiseach John A Costello, was first elected to the Dáil in 1951 for the Fine Gael party. A representative of the working-class constituency of Dublin North-West, he witnessed the effects of unemployment, emigration and relative poverty. This experience influenced him to formulate an eight-point plan designed to create a more just society in Ireland. However, he faced great difficulty in convincing Fine Gael to adopt his proposals. A traditionally conservative party that supported private enterprise, elements of Fine Gael were uneasy with Costello’s plan, particularly those aspects that advocated greater state involvement. An intense internal debate ensued.

This podcast, which is featured on HistoryHub.ie, explores the nature of that debate and the policy document, Towards a Just Society, which emerged from it. For all its flaws and problems encountered in developing it, Costello’s document is worth recalling as a case study for social policy formulation. Though it remained an untested document, it did make an important contribution to wider discourse which saw many of the areas identified as problematic being legislated for at a later stage. The central message also remains important: social reform and social progress are not luxuries which we must wait for until economic development has reached a certain point.

Listen here.

This podcast draws on research for my forthcoming book, A Just Society for Ireland? 1964-87, which will be published in November 2013 by Palgrave Macmillan.

Published by Dr Ciara Meehan

Reader in History at the University of Hertfordshire.

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