Tuesday, 14 May 2019
An Bille um an gCúigiú Leasú is Tríocha ar an mBunreacht (An Ceart chun Teaghaise) 2016: An Dara Céim [Comhaltaí Príobháideacha] - Thirty-fifth Amendment of the Constitution (Right to a Home) Bill 2016: Second Stage [Private Members]
It is a pity the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, is not here to account for his and the Government's policy failures in respect of the housing crisis. Deputy Ó Broin has pointed out that the Government is entirely failing to arrest runaway rents. There are supposed to be rent pressure zones in Cork city but there has been a 10% increase in rental prices, while in the wider county the increase has been 12%. There has been a 480% increase in child homelessness during Fine Gael's time in government. It is a scandal and it is clear that Rebuilding Ireland is not working.
I presume the Minister of State, Deputy Stanton, is here in the guise of being the Minister of State tasked with responsibility for law reform. It is a pity, as I said, that the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government is not present but it is apt that the Minister of State is, because this also is a matter of justice and of equality. Housing is one of the most fundamental rights. It is a right without which it becomes very difficult to fulfil a life properly and move on to other rights. We will be dealing for years with the consequences of children and families being in emergency accommodation and the disruption that causes to them.
Far from the situation improving, anecdotally I see an increase in the number of families with whom I am dealing in emergency accommodation. Some of them have been in emergency accommodation on an ongoing basis. I give the recent example of somebody who was on the housing list for 11 years in Cork city. She was evicted from her house and moved into emergency accommodation. She was then moved from that emergency accommodation, from that family hub, out of the city to Kinsale and into other emergency accommodation. She has been failed not once or twice but thrice by the State, which has not prevented her being evicted into homelessness and has not provided her with social housing. She does not drive but she has been forced out of Cork city to Kinsale. She now has to try to get her children by bus from Kinsale into school in Cork city. That story is replicated across the country. It is a disgrace and a scandal.
Unfortunately, that will stay with those children and countless families for the rest of their lives. Housing is a fundamental right. There are no absolute rights in the Constitution and this would not be one either. However, it would provide a minimum level of protection that is right and appropriate and as exists in other countries. I hope the Government and Fianna Fáil will support this proposal to ensure people have that very basic right.