© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2016. With ‘Pathways to Work’, Ireland’s activation policy found opportunity in crisis to integrate Irish public employment services and income supports and make working age welfare more conditional. This targeted male breadwinner activation model means unequal access to enabling supports in new agencies ‘Intreo’ and ‘Solas’. Privatisation is evident in the quasi-market ‘Job Path’, and is also a more intensified new public management culture. Increases in low-pay and precarious employment are paralleled by growth in corporate welfare with annual Irish state investment of over €1bn in work benefits and family income supports for low-paid workers. It seems the aim is to enable a job ready flexible employee for precarious jobs which are made sustainable through employment subsidies. There is an alternative based on decent employment.