Munich Personal RePEc Archive

The politics of poor law reform in early twentieth century Ireland

Cousins, Mel (2007): The politics of poor law reform in early twentieth century Ireland.

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This paper looks at the reform of poor relief in Dublin (the capital city of the then Irish Free State) in the 1920s and 1930s. In particular, it examines the introduction of the Poor Relief (Dublin) Act, 1929 and the role of political parties and interest groups in shaping its final outcome. This study is of particular interest in that it came in the first decade of Irish independence in a transitional phase of political and policy development. As such it took place before the political system took on the more rigid structures to be found in the mature Irish polity. It is one of the very few examples of an initiative by an Irish opposition party leading to significant change in the welfare area. In addition, the reform took place at a time when policies were moving from the more localised model of the nineteenth century to a more centralised approach. This local focus shows very clearly the particular class interests at play in the Dublin reform.

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