Read here the ESC Rights Initiative statement on Thomas Pringle TD’s Private Members Bill on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

A press briefing on Thomas Pringle’s Private Members Bill will take place on Wednesday 22nd March 2017 at 11am in Buswells Hotel (with attendance of Peter McVerry and Brid O’Brien

The ESC Rights Initiative welcomes Thomas Pringle’s Private Members Bill to amend the Constitution to progressively realise economic, social and cultural (ESC rights). The Bill would implement the Constitutional Convention recommendation that Ireland’s constitution be amended to explicitly protect economic, social and cultural (ESC) rights. 85% of Convention delegates voted in favour of this recommendation.

In January 2016 Government referred the Convention recommendations to an Oireachtas committee on housing and homelessness. There was no mention of ESC Rights, including housing rights, in the subsequent report of the Oireachtas committee. Clearly, political will to address the recommendation is severely lacking.

In the absence of a Government response, Thomas Pringle’s Private Members Bill aims to give effect to the Constitutional Convention’s recommendation. This Bill will be debated in the Dáil this evening.

Incorporating the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights into domestic law would provide a strong impetus to government to develop effective legislation and robust implementation mechanisms to address housing needs, health inequalities and endemic poverty among other issues.

We are a wealthy nation with an ambition to develop a dynamic and innovative presence at the European and global level. That will not be achieved if we remain a nation riven by poverty, disadvantage and inequality.

We call on all parties, and individual members, to support measures to progress the recommendations of the Convention. It is important that citizen consultative processes, such as the Constitutional Convention are followed through on if we are to retain the confidence of the electorate in the democratic process.

The Context of the Private Members Bill

Economic, social and cultural (ESC) rights are those human rights relating to issues of poverty, health, housing, education, employment conditions and participation in cultural life. ESC rights compel governments to progressively realise an adequate standard of living for everybody, including appropriate shelter and sanitation, access to proper healthcare, adequate nutrition, social security, and protections within the workplace. Along with civil and political rights they are part of the international body of human rights as set down in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Ireland is a signatory to both the International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social & Cultural Rights but only civil and political rights are firmly embedded in the constitution and are justiciable, resulting in a situation where there is no compulsion on the state to progressively realise both sets of rights as set down in the Covenants.

This has brought criticism from the UN examining committees and the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty. This amending Bill would create the conditions for the state to address poverty, housing needs, employment rights and accessible healthcare.

For further information please contact: Aiden Lloyd 087 9191 026 (Chair of the ESC Rights Initiative)

Full Text of Thomas Pringle’s Private Members Bill