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From China to a united Ireland: what The Good Information Project has been up to so far

The series enlists readers to join forces with the project team to take a deep dive into key issues impacting Ireland right now.

FOR THE PAST three months, The Good Information Project team has been taking a deep dive on major topics that impact people’s lives, and in turn creating a space for discussion, learning and the sharing of new ideas and solutions.

In the ongoing initiative, we engage with audience feedback to identify critical challenges facing our country, our democracy and our place in the European Union and wider world – giving the audience all the facts that they need to know.  

So far in the 18-month series, we’ve taken a deep dive into key issues like a united Ireland, housing, Ireland’s relationship with China, and the future of work.

Here’s a quick look at some of the work we’ve brought you so far: 

What could a shared island look like?

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This first question we posed to readers is talked about a lot, but what we read can often be opinion or agenda-driven. 

Looking at Ireland and Northern Ireland’s future, the series includes a factual guide to the possibility of a border poll; what the Shared Island Unit is; and what we know about the cost of reunification. 

The team then looked at how Brexit has shifted the course of Northern Ireland’s future, and how Scotland and its elections are key to the union and a united Ireland. 

In Ireland, there is the possibility that the debate around the Irish flag could overshadow or derail any discussion about unity or the island’s shared future, and polling we carried out found it may be a red line issue when/if the time comes. 

Too often the concerns of young people are overlooked, in a conversation dominated by the major parties of Unionism and Republicanism, so when it comes to redline issues -  they’re not the same for everyone. New communities in Northern Ireland are shifting the all-important demographics and are increasingly wanting more of a say in the constitutional debate. The team spoke to those who are proving that Northern Ireland is more than green and orange now.  

Likewise, the Good Friday agreement generation was never supposed to know the violence of the past, but recent events show life in Northern Ireland is more complicated than that. In a panel with young Northern Irish people, we discussed mental health,  trauma, education, housing discrimination and cultural issues like languages and discrimination.

You can check out the full coverage here

What is the future of work after Covid-19?

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Most people have skin in this game, whether you found yourself working from home since last March or are hoping the inequalities exposed by the pandemic will improve your working life. 

On the back of your take and experiences of working from home, we took a deeper dive into the government’s policies when it comes to remote working and what the rest of Europe has been doing when it comes to legislation in the area. 

Its National Remote Work Strategy was published earlier this year, and we break it all down on what the government has promised and how it could affect you in future. 

Turning aside from the government’s plans we also took a look at when exactly we’ll be going back to offices. The short answer is: once the public health advice allows it. The long answer can be found here

The Journal also teamed up with Ireland Thinks to ask the public how they are currently feeling about working from home – most office workers want the option of working remotely 2-3 days per week after the pandemic

We spoke to a number of people in disparate industries who never stopped during Covid-19 as they went to work each day as normal. In this video piece, we also spoke to two workers to get their very different experiences of what it’s been like to stay working for the last 14 months during a pandemic

We also took a look at what the future could look like for working parents after Covid, and what this “new normal” could leave behind for people with disabilities. And, with the prospect of remote working from anywhere in future, we took a look at if people are moving out of Dublin now they can work remotely

Check out the rest of our coverage here.

Ireland’s relationship with China

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Up until recently, Ireland’s relationship with China was mostly seen through the lens of trade and investment, however, the ongoing detention of Irishman Richard O’Halloran in Shanghai and the recent not-exactly-unforced departure of Irish journalists cast a major shadow on the two countries’ so-called ‘mutually beneficial relationship’.

One of the most common queries readers posed was in relation to China’s footprint in Ireland and how big that foot is exactly.

The team found that Ireland’s ties with Chinese companies and investors have strengthened significantly in the past decade, but this has been the case across the board given the country was flooded with international capital since the crash - a concerted effort by the government and the IDA.

Meanwhile, agricultural and live animal exports have been on the downturn due to public health restrictions in China over a reported case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy here – putting plans for ramped up beef exports to China firmly on the back burner for now.

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Many asked if Irish exporters were to become heavily reliant on the Chinese market, in the way that many Australian producers already are, what’s to stop the PRC from using that as extra leverage to squash criticism of its human rights record as we’ve seen happen down under. In a recent op-ed, Anthony Moore SC points out that China has used its commercial muscle to silence those who seek to scrutinise and expose its human rights abuses, and Ireland is vulnerable to economic coercion

When it came to the trade war between Australia and China, we found it is less of a dire warning than it first appears. Another takeaway is for companies and countries not to place all their eggs into one basket – no matter how much money is involved.

To get a better understanding of modern China, we broke down data on nearly one-fifth of the world’s population. When it came to Ireland, we looked at the funny and unexpected path of Chinese identity here, but also the impact the global increase in anti-Asian hate has had on the diverse Asian community in Ireland

China’s record on human rights was, unsurprisingly, also something raised a lot by readers. We heard from experts on the fine line Ireland has to walk with China if it wishes to make making a meaningful impact on human rights at the Security Council during its tenure. 

You can read about all of the above and more here. 

Ireland’s housing crisis

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The latest focus of The Good Information Project is the major problems people are having with housing in this country. The team is currently taking a deep dive behind the daily headlines, teasing out the problems, and looking for solutions.

So far, we’ve looked at whether this is real value in a constitutional right to housing, how it would work, and specifically what constitutional amendment would be required. 

There are countless proposed developments on the cards so the team took a closer look at two cases studies in particular: the 37-acre Poolbeg site in Ringsend, one of the last large-scale pieces of development land left in Dublin city, and the proposed development at 17 and 18 North Frederick Street in Dublin’s north inner city – the latest in a series of co-living developments given the go-ahead in Dublin, despite an effective ban on them brought in last year.

One of our early contributors was actor and writer Mark O’Halloran, who shared his story of having no housing security. He asks what will happen to people who are long-term renters once they retire -  and why successive governments have done so little to help. 

Most recently, we hosted a panel of expert voices to discuss what solutions, if any, could help end the crisis.

This is just the initial phase of the project, so there’s still time for you to shape the next part of the coverage. You can watch back here.

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We want to hear from you 

The Journal recently launched The Good Information Project with the goal of enlisting readers to take a deep dive with us into key issues impacting Ireland right now. 

Over the coming weeks, we’re going to take a look at all of these angles as we try to dive deeper into Ireland’s housing crisis. 

You can keep up to date by signing up to The Good Information Project newsletter in the box below. If you want to join the discussion, ask questions or share your ideas on this or other topics, you can find our Facebook group here or contact us directly via WhatsApp.

This work is co-funded by Journal Media and a grant programme from the European Parliament. Any opinions or conclusions expressed in this work is the author’s own. The European Parliament has no involvement in nor responsibility for the editorial content published by the project. For more information, see here 

About the author:

Adam Daly

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