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Ard Fheis 2004 - Right to housing must be enshrined in the Constitution

28 February, 2004


Sinn Féin Dublin EU candidate Mary Lou McDonald speaking during the housing section of the party's Ard Fheis said: 'the right to housing will be brought about through public investment, government regulation of the economy and land market and the incorporation of the right to housing in the overall development objectives of the state.' Ms McDonald said:

Other speakers have outlined the severity of the housing crisis that exists both North and South. I would like to address an element of Sinn Féin's proposals in relation to the resolution of that crisis.

Sinn Féin is advocating a human rights approach to combating homelessness and housing disadvantage. We are not only committed to enshrining the right to housing in the 1937 constitution and in a future constitution of a United Ireland, we are committed to delivering this right to housing in real and practical terms for the people of Ireland.

There is widespread public support for a right to housing and it is a key goal of NGO's working in the housing sector. It is recognised in numerous international instruments and is one of the pillar's of the Council of Europe's Social Cohesion strategy. Sinn Fein introduced a constitutional amendment bill in the Dáil last November which if accepted and then passed in a constitutional referendum would have led to the enshrinement of a right to housing in the 1937 constitution. The Bill received cross party opposition support but was voted down by the coalition government.

While the insertion of a constitutional right to housing will not of itself resolve the complex housing and homeless crisis, it represents a first step which must be followed by legislation which will bring about the progressive realisation of this right. A constitutional right to housing will bring about a fundamental change in how the housing crisis and the housing needs are addressed.

Following the enshrining of the right to housing Sinn Féin would envisage that a national housing strategy, with targets and priorities for the progressive realisation of this new right would then be developed at an early stage. The elimination of social housing waiting lists and homelessness would be prioritised. Legislation would have to be brought forward to support the right to housing and to ensure access to adequate and appropriate housing for all.

The realisation of the right to housing will be brought about through public investment, government regulation of the economy and land market and the incorporation of the right to housing in the overall development objectives of the state.

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