Press Release by the ESC Rights Initiative on the 2nd October 2018

Right to Housing, Right to Health…
4 years of silence!

The 2014 Constitutional Convention’s request
to the Government not yet answered.

Members of the Irish Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Initiative support the calls of the #RaiseTheRoof rally and the #StillWaiting march

On Wednesday 3rd and Saturday 6th October, citizens and organisations involved in the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Initiative will join trade unions, students, housing and health civil society organisations and community groups in occupying the streets of Dublin.

The calls of the ESC Rights Initiative will underline the four years silence of the Government after the clear request of the Constitutionnal Convention in February 2014 and the importance to approach human rights as a comprehensive, inter-dependant and indivisible plan.

The need to strengthen the protection of Economic, Social and Cultural rights in Bunreacht na hEireann was outlined in the 8th Report of the Convention on the Constitution (2014). After a full investigation the citizens and party representatives of the Convention concluded by 85% that this protection was requested. Although the Government was committed to responding to this recommendation by the Summer 2014 there has been no response to date.

Incorporating a strong protection of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights into the Irish Constitution 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.

Aiden Lloyd, chair of the ESC Rights Initiative said “Today’s Raise the Roof rally and the National Health Demonstration next Saturday illustrate the frustrations of the people. You have almost 8,000 people on hospital trolleys, massive waiting lists for elective surgery, children waiting in agony for scoliosis surgery. For more than one week now media are full of reports on the Housing crisis: 10,000 homeless, endemic overcrowding, unaffordable rents, and unaffordable houses. And I don’t want to forget the rampant poverty, especially child poverty. Can Ireland become a country where the basic human rights to health, housing and the freedom from poverty are constitutionally protected?”

Evidence from research and accounts by citizens facing the hardships of life in poverty demonstrate robustly the huge inter-dependence usually referred to as “indivisibility” of all human rights. Poor housing conditions impact the health of a family, the mental health of the parents, the social and school life of the children. Low paid insecure and irregular jobs for young parents limit the possibility to support the early education of children or to move out from the family home. Poor delivery of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights results in a poor civic, political and democratic life with low turnout at elections, mistrust in the system and the representatives. It also limits drastically individual freedom.

Pierre Klein, All Together in Dignity Ireland, active member of the ESC Rights Initiative said: ”The more you understand how everything is strongly interconnected in our social life, the more you want to defend the whole package of civic, political, family, economic, social and cultural rights and freedoms all together. I learned this from friends who really know what it means to face hardships. Today it is important that together we advance the right to housing and we reduce health inequalities! But we can’t forget the bigger picture including quality education, decent levels of income security, access to services and also the ban of discrimination of socio-economic grounds.”