This item appeared originally as part of ‘Envisaging Ireland 20 Years from today‘ in the Sunday Business Post magazine on Sunday 12th March 2017. In this extract, IMPACT general secretary SHAY CODY describes the Ireland of 2037 in the aftermath of Brexit, the Trump presidency, increasing automation, and the economic revolution caused by the introduction of a Universal Basic Income.
Ireland’s society, and its economy, experienced a revolution after the collapse of the UK economy in 2019. The other, equally significant, agent of change was the rapid automation of work that took hold between 2020 and 2025.
The cycle of change began around the same time as the impeachment of President Donald Trump in 2019, by which time the draft EU/Brexit deal fell apart and the US abandoned trade deal talks with the UK. The global uncertainty seemed poised to trigger a more severe economic crisis than in 2008-2010.
Contrary to expectations, the sense of chaos triggered the collapse in support for populism and the far-right on both sides of the Atlantic. At the same time, privatised health, education and municipal services throughout Europe were closing, as capital fled in panic to offshore accounts.
Back home, the inward migration of 500,000 UK citizens in 2021, coupled with growing unemployment as jobs in the finance, administration, retail and transport sectors were lost to automation, forced the state to radically re-imagine how the Irish economy was organised.
Experiments with models of Universal Basic Income (UBI) in Canada, the Netherlands and Finland had, by 2020, proved successful, and a version of the scheme was introduced to the Irish state – supported by a system of progressive taxation on companies providing automated services – in 2025.
Further measures to return a range of public services to public ownership began the same year as Dublin City Council took control of refuse collection in the capital. The new service waived charges for low income households, and illegal dumping and incineration across the city ceased within weeks
With more people now free to return to further education and training after the introduction of the UBI, community-based care and education programmes sprung up throughout the country.
These programmes enabled communities to increase their focus on early childhood care and education, the care of older people in their own communities and the development of a range of environment and ecology programmes – including the growing sustainable transport sector – that saw Ireland achieve carbon-neutral status by 2028. It also heralded an explosion of small start-up companies in these sectors.
The fastest growing sectors in the Irish economy since 2025 have been early and continuing education and the care of older people, with 70% of our union’s membership now employed in these sectors. The community-based model of elder care, underpinned by the UBI, has proved to be a defining quality-of-life measure for a population that continues to live longer, and in better health, in a warmer climate (a rare bonus of climate change).
The growth of the sector has meant that Ireland was finally able to overcome the resource difficulties that had plagued the health system since the end of the previous century. The Irish universal model of healthcare, free to all at the point of access, was the model used to re-establish the NHS as part of the EurMarshall2030 re-building project in the UK.