What would the ‘referendum on housing’ be about and do we really need one?

There is scope for ambitious legislative reform on housing within existing constitutional parameters, including measures aimed at reducing the cost of land

 Students protesting outside the Dail over student accomadation rent rises in Dublin in 2018. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

Students protesting outside the Dail over student accomadation rent rises in Dublin in 2018. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

The proposed Programme for Government promises ‘a referendum on housing’. While that commitment has been widely interpreted in recent days as proposing a referendum on a right to housing, in fact the Programme is vague on what type of constitutional amendment is envisaged. Indeed, the commitment is not mentioned in the Housing mission, but rather in a section on constitutional reform.

Neither the nature of any proposed referendum on housing, nor its likely effects, is evident. A range of approaches other than inserting a right to housing into the Constitution remain open.

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