Author: Lorna Jennings
The Irish Cancer Society (ICS) is an organization with significant credibility in the health arena. As the national cancer charity, the Society since its foundation in 1963 has played a key role in the development of cancer policy in Ireland. With regard to areas outside the remit of health however, it became very clear during the December 2008 Pre‐Budget lobby that further progress on the issue of tax on tobacco would not be made and proposals not taken seriously, if the Society remained exclusively in the health arena. It was clear that the ICS needed to move into the fiscal space and engage on an economic level to gain traction with political audiences. To achieve this engagement, the Society needed to expand its knowledge and capacity around the issue. The process of economic engagement started with the April 2009 Pre‐Budget submission by economist Jim Power. Immediately, there was an indication that the process of engaging had begun when the Government responded with the argument about smuggling being responsible for high prices. This was a greater level of debate on the price issue than had been previously achieved and began a process with the government and the political audience that was far more in‐depth than the Society had ever taken part in. The lobbying campaign conducted by the Society brought the argument to the political audience and educated key stakeholders in addition to countering opposition arguments. In terms of the public affairs agenda of the ICS’ successfully moving into the economic space, being taken seriously in that space, was and is a hugely significant achievement for a health charity.
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