Morgan calls for right to housing to be enshrined in constitution
Speaking at a press conference today before a debate in the Dáil later on a Bill which would enshrined the right to housing in the Constitution, Sinn Féin spokesperson on the Environment and Local Government Arthur Morgan TD said:
"Adequate housing is universally viewed as one of the most basic human needs. Sinn Féin believes that housing is a fundamental right, which must be enshrined in the Constitution and that is why we are launching this campaign today and bringing a constitutional amendment Bill before the Dáil. It is totally unacceptable that people are living in this State without access to adequate housing.
"The Fianna Fail/PD coalition government has consistently failed to address the housing crisis, which has become progressively worse during the six years that this coalition has been in power. Under the stewardship of Martin Cullen and his sidekick Noel Ahern, housing has slipped off the Government agenda. All we get from the Government these days are denials from Noel Ahern that there are hundreds of people sleeping rough on Dublin streets, insinuations that those seeking disabled housing grants are less than genuine and claims that housing affordability has been helped by the now passed economic boom. There is no recognition or acknowledgment from the Government of the crisis that affects, in one aspect or another, every family in the 26 counties.
"Sinn Féin believes that the current absence of such a right to housing has resulted in a relatively weak commitment from government and officials in addressing the housing issue and the increasing levels of homelessness. The absence of such a constitutional protection for the right to housing has allowed the government to get away with not acting in the interests of the homeless and others affected by the housing crisis.
"The tabling of this Constitutional amendment Bill represents the first initiative in Sinn Féin's campaign to force the government to address this issue for which there is widespread support ? for example: A survey carried out on
behalf of the Simon Community proper to the 2002 General election found that 71% of those surveyed support the inclusion of a right to housing in the constitution. Focus Ireland will also be launching their campaign on the "Right to a Home" this coming Thursday (13th).
"Sinn Féin rejects the Government's arguments that the inclusion of social and economic rights in the Constitution is undemocratic. We reject the assertion that social and economic policies are the sole prerogative of democratically elected and accountable politicians.
"The Constitution must be updated to include what are now internationally recognised social and political rights.
"Sinn Féin believes that a rights-based approach ensures that a basic standard with respect to housing provision will be upheld and that the voiceless and most marginalized within our society will not be penalised by their lack of political strength or representation.
"A constitutional right to housing would oblige statutory bodies to provide adequate and appropriate housing for all of the people of this State.
"Sinn Féin is confident that an overwhelming majority of the people of this State would support the enshrinement of the right to housing in the 1937 Constitution. We hope the Government will accept the Bill and that a referendum on the issue will be brought before the people at an early date."ENDS