The purpose of this Bill is to begin the process to allow for a referendum to be held for the electorate to decide on the insertion of a right to housing into Article 45 of Bunreacht Na hÉireann. The wording put forward in the Bill reads: “The State recognises the common good as including the right to adequate and appropriate housing and shall guarantee that right through its laws, policies and the prioritisation of resources, with particular regard to children.”
Today, June 26th, Deputy Broughan will introduce the Thirty-Ninth Amendment to the Constitution (Right to Housing) Bill 2019. The Bill seeks to amend Article 45 of the Constitution, the Directive Principles of Social Policy with the following insertion in Section 5 “The State recognises the common good as including the right to adequate and appropriate housing and shall guarantee that right through its laws, policies and the prioritisation of resources, with particular regard to children.”
I have listened to the Minister’s response but I still do not see why it would not be sensible to take the extra step and allow for some kind of verification process. The Minister has indicated how sending misinformation to the RTB can be a criminal offence and outlined the requirement for works to be documented. However, there is still no provision for verification. Many of us met when the heads of the Bill were published and in the run-up to its passage. We have been talking about some of these issues for decades, even since the aftermath of the 2004 Act.
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).