FF Senators call for referendum on right to housing by 2023

Group puts motion before Seanad seeking to enshrine right to home in Constitution

The Fianna Fáil Seanad motion would mandate the State to insert wording in the Constitution to recognise and vindicate the right of all persons to adequate housing, and, through legislative and other measures, provide for the realisation of this right through its available resources. File photograph: Frank Miller

The Fianna Fáil Seanad motion would mandate the State to insert wording in the Constitution to recognise and vindicate the right of all persons to adequate housing, and, through legislative and other measures, provide for the realisation of this right through its available resources. File photograph: Frank Miller

 

A referendum on housing should be held before Micheál Martin finishes his term as Taoiseach in December 2022, a group of Fianna Fáil Senators has said.

The Senators – Mary Fitzpatrick, Pat Casey, Fiona O’Loughlin and Malcolm Byrne – are putting a motion before the Seanad on Friday calling for the right to a home to be introduced into the Constitution.

Speaking on the plinth at Leinster House on Friday, Ms Fitzpatrick said the referendum should be held “as soon as possible” once the wording was agreed, perhaps following a period of consultation or review by an Oireachtas committee.

“We as a party believe we have to go further; and it’s about the State going further, the State making a permanent commitment to ensure every citizen has access to a secure and affordable home,” she said.

The Fianna Fáil Seanad motion would mandate the State to insert wording in the Constitution to recognise and vindicate the right of all persons to adequate housing, and, through legislative and other measures, provide for the realisation of this right through its available resources. The motion is similar to a Solidarity-People Before Profit Private Members’ Bill currently working its way through the Dáil.

Ms Fitzpatrick said the wording was supported by civil society groups, including Home for Good, a group of housing charities and NGOs campaigning for a constitutional right to housing. She said it would be modelled after similar constitutional provisions which guarantee access to education.

Mr Byrne, who was briefly a TD for Wexford before the last general election, said that housing is a “core Fianna Fáil value”. “This is about Fianna Fáil reasserting our core values around housing”, he said, saying that as a party it did not favour “a very market-led approach which has perhaps been followed up until date”.

Ms O’Loughlin mirrored this call, saying that housing was a “core centre of our practical policy and indeed our philosophy”.

Mr Casey said there was a recognition across Government of the depth of the housing crisis. Echoing Mr Byrne, he said: “I think there has been a general realisation that the market hasn’t worked and there needs to be a change of emphasis back to State-controlled building of homes”.

“If we don’t fix this housing crisis, politically, all parties are in trouble,” he added.