Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 5 July 2022

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government

Right to Housing: Discussion

Professor Colm O'Cinneide:

These are all excellent questions and they will inevitably be discussed as part of any referendum on any potential wording. It is important to emphasise that the heavy lifting in all of this will ultimately come from the executive and legislative branches of the State. There will be a lot of work involved in the State defining what counts as adequate housing, shifting its definition of what counts as adequacy, revising old legislation and so on. It is necessary to be very clear about this. The right to housing, as set out very clearly in international human rights law, is not an entitlement to a State subsidy. It does not mean people have a right to have their roof immediately repaired in the morning or to have access for a disabled member of their family immediately guaranteed and provided by the State. It is a right to have their right recognised and for the State to take steps to vindicate that right. That has to be very important. It puts the focus on the State to act. It is a demand for the State to take action to vindicate the right, rather than a static entitlement. That will be very necessary. Everyone will have to be very honest and very clear about this. It is about propelling the State forward. That is the aim of a constitutional provision like this.