Wednesday, 17 December 2014
An Bille um an gCeathrú Leasú is Tríocha ar an mBunreacht (Cearta Geilleagracha, Comhdhaonnacha agus Cultúir), 2014: An Chéad Chéim - Thirty-fourth Amendment of the Constitution (Economic, Social and Cultural Rights) Bill 2014: First Stage
Go gceadófar go dtabharfar isteach Bille dá ngairtear Acht chun an Bunreacht a leasú.I move:
That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to amend the Constitution.For too long economic, social and cultural rights have largely been excluded from the political and legal systems. It is almost 25 years since Ireland ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, thereby agreeing to be bound by its provisions, yet the covenant has never been given legal effect in Ireland.
Prevailing myths and misconceptions about economic, social and cultural rights, combined with a lack of political will, have hindered their application in Ireland. However, the recommendation on such rights made by the Constitutional Convention earlier this year reinforces the need for the Government to move forward and give greater legal protection to them in Ireland. What has happened since? Limited provision is made for economic, social and cultural rights in Bunreacht na hÉireann. Enshrining such rights in the Constitution would bring Bunreacht na hÉireann into line with the growing trend in many countries that have revised their constitutions to include economic, social and cultural rights. Making such rights legally enforceable would address the current imbalance in their protection. Moreover, it would strengthen accountability and ensure people had access to a remedy if their rights were not upheld. The right to a remedy is a fundamental concept of human rights law.
The proposed wording of the Bill is intended to be in addition to the text of Article 45 of the Constitution to the effect that the State shall progressively realise, subject to its maximum available resources and without discrimination, the rights contained in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and that this duty is cognizable by the courts. Last February 85% of the members of the Constitutional Convention voted in favour of amending the Constitution to strengthen the protection of economic, social and cultural rights. A majority of members of the convention voted in favour of a constitutional provision to progressively realise such rights, subject to the maximum available resources, and to enshrine that this duty be cognizable by the courts. The convention voted on whether specific additional rights should be enumerated in the Constitution and voted in favour of a proposal that all of the rights contained in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights be enumerated within the Constitution. The Bill is intended to give effect to that determination.