Given our experience over the past decade of poor performance in the delivery of social housing, does the Minister agree with the many excellent civil society groups, including the Mercy Law Resource Centre, who argue that we should insert a right to housing into our Constitution? Numerous Opposition Deputies have tried to bring forward motions and Bills on this issue, including Deputy Thomas Pringle who introduced the Thirty-Seventh Amendment to the Constitution (Economic, Social and Cultural Rights) Bill 2018. Is it now time to include the right to housing in our Constitution?
Deputy Broughan is delighted to be supporting the ‘Raise The Roof’ initiative which was launched in Buswells today and is calling for a large public rally at lunchtime at Leinster House on October 3rd. Today’s launch was very well attended and saw representatives from most sectors of Irish society from grassroots housing action groups, unions (including the Union of Students of Ireland), charities, political parties, the National Women’s Council and others. It demonstrated the great interest in addressing the escalating housing crisis which has a devastating human cost (as Niamh Randall, spokesperson for the Simon Communities of Ireland pointed out).
I thank the House for the opportunity to speak briefly on my colleague Deputy Collins’ important Private Member’s Bill, the Thirty-fifth Amendment of the Constitution (Water in Public Ownership) (No. 2) Bill 2016. I warmly congratulate Deputy Collins on her great perseverance and determination in bringing forward the Bill to ensure that the national water supply and infrastructure will remain forever, as the amendment would provide, in public ownership and management. Deputy Collins was a leading candidate who stood on the Right2Change platform in the February general election. A key commitment of that platform, supported outstandingly by the Mandate and Unite trade unions, was to abolish water taxes and ensure through a referendum that our water services infrastructure remains always in the ownership of the Irish people. I am proud to stand beside Deputy Collins on the Right2Change programme and am delighted that her Bill to amend the Constitution will, hopefully, be accepted by Dáil Éireann this week.
Deputy Tommy Broughan has today spoken in strong support of Deputy Joan Collin’s Private Members’ Bill on the Thirty-fifth Amendment of the Constitution (Water in Public Ownership) (No. 2) Bill 2016. Deputy Collin’s Bill provides for the amendment of Article 28 of the Constitution to enshrine water in public ownership. Deputy Broughan re-iterated Deputy Collin’s argument that unless an elected representative is in favour of privatising water in Ireland, they must support this Bill.
In Dáil Éireann today, Deputy Broughan strongly condemned the undemocratic way in which discussions and debates on Irish Water and water charges have been dictated by Fine Gael and Labour. As a Right2Change candidate, Deputy Broughan has strongly stood by the mandate given to him by the electorate of Dublin Bay North that Irish Water and water charges must be abolished. Deputy Broughan highlighted the undemocratic nature of discussions on the introduction of water charges and the setting up of Irish Water in Dáil Éireann with late night and guillotined debates. These charges and super quango were introduced by diktat and now seem to be one of the main reasons that a Government has not yet been agreed over 2 months after election day.
I was delighted to support the nomination of Deputy Ruth Coppinger. It was historic for Dáil Éireann, as was the previous nomination of Deputy Boyd Barrett. I have always believed in the unity of the broad left and I had hoped, through the decades, that my former party would have been the fulcrum of such a broad left Government or even led such a Government. I was elected as a Right2Change candidate and an Independent 4 Change. My preference still is for change and we should have a change of Government. That was the decisive feeling of the people. In particular, all of those who stood on the platform of Right2Change should perhaps have a single nomination for Taoiseach, with people supporting that broadly across the political spectrum. We should try to fulfil the will of the people in this regard.
As 2015 draws to a close, it is a time to reflect on this past year and also to look forward to changes for the better in the coming year, the centennial celebration of the 1916 Easter Rising. The coming General Election offers a clear choice between more of the same from Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil & their allies or a real break with the austerity-laden and questionable fiscal policies of governments past.