Month: May 2016

Statement on the Programme for Partnership Government – 2016

The ESC Rights Initiative is dismayed to learn of the dilution of the recommendations of the 8th Constitutional Convention Report on Economic Social and Cultural Rights in the programme for government. The Constitutional Convention recommended by 85% that the Constitution be amended to strengthen the protection of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

In January of 2016 the Government announced that it would refer the Report to an Oireachtas committee for further consideration. However, the programme for government appears now to be separating out these rights by referring the matter of housing rights to the oireachtas committee on housing.

We welcome the recognition in the programme for government that ‘the eighth report of the Constitutional Convention on economic, social and cultural rights recommended that the State progressively realise economic, social and cultural rights subject to maximum available resources, that this duty be recognisable by the courts’ but we are concerned that only ‘specific additional rights on housing be inserted into the Constitution.’

The ESC Rights Initiative is also concerned about the following statement: ‘Due to the substantial questions raised on the balance of rights, proper governance and resources, we will refer this report to the new Oireachtas Committee on Housing for consideration.’ This implies that the focus of this consideration is purely on housing rather than the totality of economic, social and cultural rights as addressed in the Constitutional Convention report.

The ESC Rights Initiative and the Constitutional Convention recognise that there is no hierarchy of rights; that all rights are indivisible and deserving of equal protection – the rights of people with mental health issues or those experiencing poverty because of inadequate income are also deserving of protection.

The ESC Rights Initiative calls on government to implement the Constitutional Convention recommendation by inserting the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights into Bunreacht na hEireann. Should further discussion be necessary the matter should be referred in its entirety to an appropriate Oireachtas Committee.

Pringle says long-term housing solution exists in Economic, Social and Cultural rights

“The strengthening of these rights in our Constitution through a referendum will mean the right to housing can become part of the long-term solution to the housing crisis we see today” explains Deputy Pringle, Independent for Donegal.
“Last year I brought forward a Bill to strengthen these rights but the previous Government voted it down. Since then the housing crisis has worsened to three families being made homeless every day with a total of nearly 6,000 people currently homeless in Ireland.”
“It’s time we take a rights-based approach to the housing and homelessness in the new Dáil by supporting economic, social and cultural rights. If we have truly entered an era of new politics then I expect cross party support for my Private Members’ Bill on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which I’ll be reintroducing into the Dáil shortly”.  
“The problem is that the right to housing is often misinterpreted as meaning the right to a key to a home for all. It really means the State in its decisions and policies must reasonably protect this right and recognise that a home is central to the dignity and potential of every person.” 
 “I would also urge the new Government not to delay on the findings of the 8Th Constitutional Report on ESC Rights which states that a large majority of 85% of the members favoured changes to the Constitution in order to strengthen the protection of ESC rights. This right is also recognised in 81 constitutions around the world so it’s time we acted on this.”
“I look forward to working with the new Minister for Housing Simon Coveney and his publication of both short term and long term solutions in the days to come,” concludes Pringle.

Thomas Pringle TD

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