For several decades, social policy varied markedly in the two parts of Ireland, following the introduction of the welfare state in Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the dominance of the anti-state-welfare Catholic Church in the Irish Republic. Until independence the only poverty relief measures that existed in Ireland were the application of a limited number of reforms adopted by the British Government and applied in Ireland (see: Burke, 1999: 19–24) These included, in 1908, the Children’s Act and the Old Age Pensions Act, and, in 1911, the National Insurance Act — the first act to provide an insured worker and his family the right to relief. Still, the advent of independence in 1922 did not see an upsurge in social legislation or provisions and it is notable that one of the first acts of the new Irish state was to reduce the rate of old age pension by 10 per cent (Kiely, 1999: 2). Moreover, given that the majority of Irish political institutions and its administrative bureaucracy, as well as such social policy as existed, were all inherited from Britain, it is notable that following independence the evolution of Irish welfare was markedly different to that of the UK (Daly and Yeates, 2003).
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