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UN slams Ireland for inviting in the debt vultures – Matt Carthy MEP

26 March, 2019 - by Matt Carthy MEP


Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has said the United Nations' harsh condemnation of the Irish government’s housing policies must be met by a fundamental change in approach towards housing, one which provides adequate housing for all as a human right. The UN special rapporteur on the right to housing, Leilani Farha, and chairperson of the UN Working Group on housing Surya Deva, have critiqued Ireland along with five other states and private equity giant Blackstone for their role in fuelling the global housing crisis and being responsible for the denial of the human right to housing.

Carthy said: “The UN special rapporteur has this week issued an absolutely scathing letter reprimanding the Irish government for its policies that have actively encouraged the financialisation of the real estate sector – and which have directly caused the extreme rise in homelessness we have witnessed.

“The authors point out that homelessness in Ireland has increased exponentially between 2015 and 2018, increasing by nearly 95.9% among adults and by 227.7% among children over the same period. They call the denial of the right to a home an ‘egregious and damaging violation’, which is known to be devastating to the lives and wellbeing of children in particular, including to their physical and mental development. 

“The UN does not limit its critique to the government’s failure to provide shelter for those experiencing homelessness.  It outlines exactly how this crisis has developed and identifies the precise government policies that have caused it.

“Specifically the UN points to cuts to the public housing budget, and land hoarding by investors who deliberately restrict supply in order to inflate rent and prices. This includes the actions of I-RES REIT, which the authors point out has ‘openly discussed policies of introducing the highest rents possible’ to increase returns for shareholders.

“The UN authors single out three specific policies that have caused the financialisation of housing in Ireland, including the establishment of NAMA; the promotion of Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT) from 2013 onwards; and the sale by the state-controlled banks of non-performing loans to US vulture funds.

"The UN has accused the Irish government of being in breach of its international obligation under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to ensure the right to adequate housing to everyone. It further accuses the government of breaching the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which declares that states must protect people against human rights abuses by business enterprises within their jurisdiction.

“The UN is demanding that the Irish government transform its approach to housing. It says the government must develop policies and laws that include taxation, regulatory and planning measures in order to re-establish housing as a human right, promote an inclusive housing system, prevent speculation and limit the extraction of profits at the expense of tenants. Considering that they have ignored similar calls from Sinn Féin and Irish housing campaigners hopefully the government will now take this latest scathing critique of its policies seriously and fundamentally change its relationship with the financial sector.”

ENDS

Note to editors:

The UN's letter to the Irish government is available here:

https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Housing/Financialization/OL_IRL_2_2019.pdf

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