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]
Dessie Ellis (Dublin North West, Sinn Fein)
This proposed constitutional amendment is not one we ask for lightly. We are in a housing and homelessness crisis but the Government is not treating it with the urgency it should. That is a serious charge but, unfortunately, it is true. I knock on doors in my constituency, speak to people and listen to their concerns. In a constituency like Dublin North-West, there are many issues, but housing and the homelessness crisis are repeatedly raised with me and Sinn Féin councillors in the area every day without exception. I cannot emphasise too greatly how frustrated and disempowered people feel. We spoke the other night to a woman who has three families living in her small home, all of whom are immediate relatives. She was right to say she felt people like her were ignored and forgotten. She was right to say there were no houses for her daughters. She was right to say her daughters were as much a part of the homelessness problem as rough sleepers.
There is, in effect, no obligation on local authorities to provide housing. There is no constitutional or statutory right to a home in Ireland. The Government's policies are creating a lost generation. There are almost 4,000 homeless children and they have no stability or security in their lives. The stress of living like this is having a real psychological impact on them. We must provide hope, security and stability to these children and their families. The constitutional amendment we propose is one step on the way to addressing the catastrophic failure of the housing policies of this and the previous Government.