In 1986 a group of researchers and trade union activists organised a meeting of UBI supporters in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium. Out of that meeting the Basic Income European Network (BIEN) was formed. The organisation produced a regular newsletter and organised biennial conferences. Early Irish members included Máire Mullarney, Sean Healey, and Brigid Reynolds. As the network grew, BIEN was later redefined as the Basic Income Earth Network, its name to this day.

BIEN Ireland – one the first of the national affiliates – was established in March 1995. It remained small but active throughout its early years, and in 2008 the 12th BIEN Congress was held in Dublin, Ireland.

In May 2011, BIEN Ireland held a general meeting to refocus its efforts, expand the number of people in the movement, and raise the public profile of basic income in Ireland. The campaign has gone from strength to strength since. In September 2012, BIEN Ireland changed its name to Basic Income Ireland. 

Basic Income Ireland members, January 2012

Recent Milestones

March 2013 – website launched

November 2016 – Social Justice Ireland organises a conference on UBI with support from BII

July 2017 – BII member Paul O’Brien publishes his “Universal Basic Income: Pennies from Heaven” (The History Press)

June 2018 – BII member publishes “Plan C” proposal as a low-friction implementation of UBI in Ireland, making use of the existing tax framework

Poster from September 2018 Roadshow

September 2018 – BII organises a month-long roadshow, with 14 events all across Ireland

December 2018 – BII co-hosts half-day conference in UCD Quinn School of Business on Ireland and universal basic income

March 2019 – BII co-hosts conference with Academics Stand Against Poverty and Development Studies Association Ireland – “Basic Income as a Solution to Poverty: What should Civil Society Do?”

June 2019 – Refreshed website launched on new domain

March 2020 – Coronavirus pandemic and widespread job insecurity leads to surge in interest in basic income. BII launches a petition and emergency call for a basic income in Ireland.

June 2020 – Irish coalition government commits to “a universal basic income pilot in the lifetime of the Government”

2021 and beyond – BII continues to go from strength to strength, join us today to be a part of the next chapter!


Universal Basic Income: Pennies from Heaven (Paul O’Brien, 2017)