A dysfunctional housing market


Sir, – Pat O’Brien (Letters, April 9th) notes the objection frequently heard to the implementation of the Kenny report that to do so would be in conflict with the property rights enshrined in our Constitution. A simple reading of the first two paragraphs of the relevant article 43 would seem to support that position. The second paragraph appears to be quite explicit on this: “The State accordingly guarantees to pass no law attempting to abolish the right of private ownership or the general right to transfer, bequeath, and inherit property.” However, the next two paragraphs put a different complexion on it: “The State recognises, however, that the exercise of the rights mentioned in the foregoing provisions of this Article ought, in civil society, to be regulated by the principles of social justice. The State, accordingly, may as occasion requires delimit by law the exercise of the said rights with a view to reconciling their exercise with the exigencies of the common good.” This seems like a perfect fit for the quandary we find ourselves in regarding the housing and homelessness crises. Exercising these constitutional provisions in the current circumstances hardly needs testing in court or, even less, a referendum, as suggested by Pat O’Brien.

Unfortunately, the Government Ministers referred to by Pat O’Brien who have the power to initiate the required changes in the law are in thrall to the market economy, however dysfunctional it is regarding housing. They cannot see their way to upsetting the developers and financiers who are busily manipulating the housing market into ever-greater levels of dysfunctionality. In some instances, they positively facilitate this.

It is long past the time that the powers available under article 43 were exercised. If the present Government is unwilling to do so, can we replace it with a Government that will? – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.