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Our History

For 50 years the National Economic and Social Council has played a defining role in public policy making in Ireland through its deliberative processes. In its early years, NESC was one of the few bodies undertaking strategic, long-term analyses of Ireland’s position and problems.


NESC’s first publication of 2024 was Natural Capital Accounting: A Guide for Action. This was followed by a half-day event dedicated to NCA, “Making Nature Visible: What Can Natural Capital Accounting Do For Us?” – it was held in the Dublin Royal Convention Centre on 12th March 2024 and featured a keynote address by leading expert in NCA Carl Obst.

In 2023 NESC celebrated its 50th anniversary. To mark a half-century of providing advice to the Taoiseach and Government on strategic policy issues, NESC hosted an in-person conference in the Printworks, Dublin Castle on 23rd November 2023. To find out more about what was involved in this event as well as highlights from the day itself please click here.

NESC also published five Council Reports in 2023: Private Rental in Ireland, Understanding the Irish Economy in a Time of Turbulence, Social Enterprise on the Island of IrelandJust Transition in Agriculture and Land Use, and Inequality and Well-Being Frameworks. View our current Work Programme here.

The publication of our Just Transition in Agriculture and Land Use report was preceded by a conference exploring the report’s contents and conclusions; it was held in the Convention Centre Dublin on 30th June 2023. Photos taken on the day can be viewed on the conference’s event page.

NESC’s Shared Island work saw us travel to University College Cork and The Playhouse, Co. Derry in July and October 2022, respectively. These events brought together leading voices from both sides of the border to discuss the findings of our Shared Island Shared Opportunity Comprehensive Report and to launch a follow-up paper, Exploring Shared Opportunities in the North West. More details on both of these events can be found here and here.


In the late 2000s and early 2010s the Council examined in a number of reports what it called Ireland’s five-parts of the crisis. It published work on the European Union and on quality and standards in a number of human services. During this time NESC developed its work in a way that integrates sustainable development issues into its analysis of significant national challenges.


In the mid-2000s NESC argued, in its work on the Developmental Welfare State, for a combination of services, income support and innovative measures to achieve better social protection and participation for children, people of working age, older people and those with disabilities. The Council also produced a major report on Housing and several background papers on issues including approaches to land management.


During the 1990s NESC looked at how Ireland was positioned in economy and society, and what the future environment was likely to hold. It advised on the direction Ireland needed to take in order to position itself well as it entered the 21st century. It produced reports on the integration and enlargement of the European Union, CAP reform, emigration, education and training policies.


The crisis of the 1980s led the Council to formulate a strategy in 1986 for Ireland to escape from a vicious circle of stagnation, rising taxes and high debt. This report, A Strategy for Development, formed the basis upon which Government and the social partners negotiated the Programme for National Recovery, the first of seven social partnership agreements. The  Council also published work on a range of areas including Ireland’s prospects in the European Community, housing, education, industrial policy, the labour market and health services.


In the mid-1970s NESC published reports on social policy, income distribution and housing, as well as publications on public expenditure and tax revenue.

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