Month: October 2017

Ireland Has Failed To Provide Adequate Housing Conditions on Local Authority Estates

Tenants  in Ireland led by Community Action Network (CAN) and other NGOs such as FLAC Welcome European Committee of Social Rights Finding That Ireland Has Failed To Provide Adequate Housing Conditions on Local Authority Estates.

The Committee found Ireland in violation of Article 16 of the Revised Social Charter, which protects the right of the family to social, legal and economic protection, including the provision of family housing.

This is the beginning. The Decision means that the Irish Government must now take stock of the housing conditions, and put in place a timed programme with clear targets to address the issues. They will have to report on progress to the Council of Europe at regular intervals.

The Community Action Network (CAN) and Flac, two active members of the ESC Rights Initiative, have been working with local authority tenants across Ireland who live in deplorable conditions – a violation of their Human Rights.

The Council of Europe provides for groups whose Human Rights as set out in the EU Revised Charter of Fundamental Rights are not being protected by the State to take a Collective Complaint. CAN organised tenants to gather the evidence needed to substantiate the Complaint, supported by The Centre for Housing Law, Right and Policy at NUI Galway and Ballymun Community Law Centre. In 2014, a complaint was finally submitted by a recognized European Human Rights body FIDH, to the Council , with the support of affiliate member FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres) along with PILA (Public Interest Law Alliance). After two years of deliberation, the Committee finally announced its decision on October 23rd 2017!

The Committee found Ireland in violation of Article 16 of the Revised Social Charter, which protects the right of the family to social, legal and economic protection, including the provision of family housing.

At a press conference on Monday 23rd October, following the announcement, Cecilia Forrestal of Community Action Network said that she was hopeful that the Government would see the European decision as a positive contribution to its overall housing vision and would take the necessary steps to bring its laws, policies and practices back into line with European housing standards. Member states are obliged to take steps to address any violations found by the European Committee.

‘This is an important benchmark decision and it demands a serious response,’ she said. ‘We urge the Minister for Housing particularly to see this decision as a positive contribution to Irish housing policy. Nobody wants to see Irish State housing being run down. These Irish citizens have a right to a decent home, in particular the children living in State housing.’

Debbie Mulhall, a resident and community leader in Dolphin House said: ‘This decision recognizes for the first time that that it is the state’s landlords, the local authorities, that have failed to take the adequate measures necessary to ensure our basic right to proper housing.’

This is the beginning. The Decision means that the Irish Government must now take stock of the housing conditions, and put in place a timed programme with clear targets to address the issues. They will have to report on progress to the Council of Europe at regular intervals.

CAN, Flac and other Irish Community Groups want to thank all those who helped us to reach this point, and particularly those residents who have worked tirelessly to assert their rights. They look forward to building on this momentous result.

The full legal Decision on Merits by the European Committee of Social Rights is available here.

Read Pila’s article here.

To read the case report by the IHREC click here.

Further Background:

The Revised European Social Charter was ratified by Ireland in 2000. The Charter sets out legal standards in economic, social and cultural human rights, in areas such as housing and accommodation, education, social welfare and protection, and in employment. It also protects vulnerable groups such as children, people with disabilities and older people. It is the Council of Europe’s counterpart for economic, social and cultural rights to the European Convention on Human Rights.


In contrast to the European Convention on Human Rights, the supervision of the European Social Charter provides for a ‘collective complaints’ mechanism where representative organisations of employers, of workers, and certain international non-governmental organisation holding participatory status with the Council of Europe may take a legal challenge concerning a general situation rather than a breach for an individual person. The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)  is one of the NGOs recognised by the Council of Europe for the purposes of collective complaints procedure.

The article of the European Social Charter which Ireland has been found to be in violation of, is as follows:

Article 16, Part I:The family as a fundamental unit of society has the right to appropriate social, legal and economic protection to ensure its full development. 

Article 16, Part II: The right of the family to social, legal and economic protection. With a view to ensuring the necessary conditions for the full development of the family, which is a fundamental unit of society, the Parties undertake to promote the economic, legal and social protection of family life by such means as social and family benefits, fiscal arrangements, provision of family housing, benefits for the newly married and other appropriate means.”

  • The legal basis for the decision on merits is Article 16 of the Revised European Social Charter. Ireland has not accepted Article 31 of the Charter which guarantees the right to housing, and the Irish government argued that the complaint focuses on matters that ‘in substance fall within Article 31 of the Charter’. However, the European Committee of Social Rights decided that some of the issues also fall within the scope of Article 16 of the Charter in so far as they relate to family housing. (paragraph 24 of the Decision on Merits)
  • The European Committee of Social Rights stated that assessments of the conditions of local housing are carried out at ‘considerable intervals’ and that ‘no national timetable for the refurbishment of local authority housing stock exists’. (paragraphs 115 and 120)
  • The European Committee of Social Rights also noted ‘that many of the local authority estates were some time back, ear-marked for regeneration, amounting to Government recognition that they were, inter alia, in poor condition’. Although new regeneration programmes have subsequently been developed, ‘not all of these to date have been completed, with the result that certain local authority tenants remain living in substandard housingconditions’. (paragraph 117)
  • The Committee found that sewage invasions, contaminated water, dampness, and persistent mould raised ‘serious concerns’ for habitability. It particularly noted ‘the high number of residents in certain estates in Dublin complaining of sewage invasions (for example the Dolphin House complex) years after the problems were first identified’. (paragraph 119)

See also the ATD Human Rights Leaflet prepared at the occasion of our 2017 conference.

A Basic Need, A Human Right! Housing Conference on Habitat Day!

On World Habitat Day 2017, the South Dublin County Public Participation Network and the Rights Platform will launch a major Housing report at the conference “Housing – a basic need, a human right”


The primary aim of this conference is to highlight and seek solutions to the national housing and homelessness crisis as it relates to availability and affordability of housing as it impacts on South Dublin County.

In doing so the speakers hops to provide clarity with regard to the existing housing context, identify barriers to the resolution of the housing crisis, both at a policy and implementation level, and make policy and implementation recommendations that will enable central and local government to deliver its housing targets. A number of housing experts will provide the context of the national and local housing policy and implementation issues, and offer solutions to the crisis.

Free download: the conference paperthe conference infographic

The conference will also act to strengthen the capacity of the South Dublin County Public Participation Network (SDCPPN) to contribute to housing strategy at local government level.  Parallel workshops will be hold and aimed at offering the space for individuals to express their solutions as the SDCPPN develop a position on housing which can be referenced in the relevant arenas within South Dublin County Council.

Louis Fitzgerald Hotel – 2nd October
Naas Rd – Newlands Cross – Clondalkin, Dublin 22

09:30am – Registration and Refreshments
10:00am – Chair Anna Lee – Welcome note
10:05am – Aiden Lloyd – setting the context
10:30am – Simon Brooke – National Housing Policy
11:00am – South Dublin County Council – Strategy to deliver social housing in South Dublin, including challenges and constraints
11:30am – Orla Hegarty – Solutions to Affordability
12:00pm – The workshops

  • Social housing
  • Traveller accommodation
  • Disability and Housing Needs
  • Homelessness

13:00pm – Lunch
13:45pm – Feedback from workshops by Siobhan Lynam
14:30pm – Rory Hearne – Housing Approaches and Rebuilding Ireland
15:00pm – Panel discussion with Simon Brooke, Orla Hegarty, Rory Hearne 15:30pm – Final comments and closing

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