Posts Tagged ‘Just Society’

Building a Just Society: the contribution of Michael Sweetman

30 June 2010

Contributed by Ciara Meehan

Michael Sweetman would have turned seventy-five on 27 June, but his life was tragically cut short in 1972 when – along with eleven other captains of Irish industry – he was killed in the Staines air disaster.  In his short life, he had an illustrious career in business, was a director of the Irish Council for the European Movement, and was part of a growing liberal wing of Fine Gael in the 1960s that challenged the party’s traditional conservatism through the promotion of a ‘Just Society’.

The ‘Just Society’ document was the creation of Declan Costello, son of the former Taoiseach, who viewed Irish politics as out of sync with the new, more confident Irish society of the 1960s.  He devised a social development strategy that would complement the economic modernisation brought about by Fianna Fáil’s Seán Lemass.  However, when he took his policy – which aimed to make a reality the concepts of freedom and equality – to the Fine Gael frontbench in 1964, he was met with resistance.  The party was dominated by an older, more conservative leadership that was either unwilling or unable to change.  The consequence of the three-week internal debate which followed was the formation of a policy committee charged with examining Costello’s proposals.  And when the 1965 general election was announced, the party adopted the concept in its manifesto, entitled Towards a Just Society. Read more