Dáil committee to consider making housing a constitutional right

Taoiseach says homelessness is a ‘stain’ on Irish society

An Opposition demand that access to housing be made a constitutional right is to be considered by a Dáil committee.

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy said the Private Member's Bill, moved by Solidarity and People Before Profit, required further consideration.

“The question is around whether the Constitution is the most sensible place to enshrine this detailed right,’’ he added.

Introducing the Thirty-fifth Amendment of the Constitution (Right to Housing) Bill 2017, People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett said the housing emergency had been generated by six years of failed, misguided policies by Fine Gael-led governments.


Canada, he said, was about to enshrine the right to housing in law.

“Eighty-one other countries in the world have it,’’ Mr Boyd Barrett added.

"But no, no, no, the Irish Government, in the face of a catastrophic housing emergency, will not put a basic right to secure affordable, dignified housing into the Constitution.''

‘Housing scandal’

Earlier, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said homelessness was a stain on Irish society. "On my own behalf, and on behalf of the Government, I very much acknowledge the stress being endured by lots of families and people who are facing homelessness at the moment and staying in emergency accommodation,'' he added.

The Taoiseach was replying to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, in the first Opposition Leaders' questions of the new term.

Mr Martin said the "housing and homeless scandal'' was a damning indictment on society and the Government's inability to come to terms with it.

There were currently about 5,187 adults, 1,400 families and 3,000 children homeless, he added.

Mr Varadkar said it was important to point out some of the progress being made.

“Today, for example, and indeed every working day, 80 individuals and their families will be housed by the State,’’ he added.

He said there were roughly 19,000 new tenancies last year and it was anticipated there would be 21,000 this year.

Michael O'Regan

Michael O'Regan

Michael O’Regan is a former parliamentary correspondent of The Irish Times