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It’s time to put the right to a home in our constitution

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Over the past few years, we have witnessed the power of the ballot when deciding on two important issues by referendum. First was the marriage equality referendum and most recently we had a massive ‘yes’ vote on the 8th. Perhaps now it is time to mobilise once more and put the right to a home into the Irish Constitution.

The right to housing can be found in the United Nations International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), ratified by the Irish parliament in 1989. The right to housing can be explained as the right to adequate housing, which means that the State is responsible to ensure that affordable housing is available to all of its citizens, contingent on all available State resources. Significantly, this does not mean that everyone should be provided with social housing, rather it means that social housing should be available to those who need it.

This obligation does not fall short at merely providing temporary shelter or emergency accommodation as we have witnessed in recent times. It should be considered, in general terms, to mean that housing should be available to the public to purchase and should be commensurate with income levels and at a level that does not compromise other basic needs. People should not have to make financial choices between paying the rent or buying food, or getting access to health care or buying books for school, and the government is responsible for managing the housing market and to take action when necessary and vindicate the rights of its citizens.

Interestingly, the Irish Government signed the ICESCR Optional Protocol in 2012 but has been hesitant when called upon to ratify this protocol. Ratification would provide Irish individuals and groups with a potential alternative legal remedy when violations of economic, social and cultural rights occur. It has also been most regrettable that the Government’s policy paper called ‘Rebuilding Ireland: Action plan for housing and homelessness (2016)’ did not specify any plan for including the right to housing in the Irish Constitution, and more or less ignored the recommendation of the Convention on the Constitution in 2014, when it decided that economic and social rights such as the right to housing merited explicit recognition in the Irish Constitution.

The view of the Constitutional Convention is also supported by Leilani Farha, the UN’s Special Rapporteur for adequate housing who stated in June of this year at the launch of ‘Making a case for a Right to Housing’ by the Simon Communities that Ireland should “either constitutionalise the right to housing or, failing that, legislate the right to housing.”

The housing crisis is not expected to end in the coming years. It is expected to continue by design. The crisis is underpinned by an ideology that would like to see a larger percentage of working-class people and families renting property from private and corporate interests over the long term, instead of being provided with social and affordable housing by the state. This strategy seeks to deny lower income families the opportunity to purchase a house that they can afford and have a place of their own to call home.

The private sector may eventually be successful in providing units to the market for rent, but low-income workers or even the average worker will not be able to afford to pay the rent for a family home at current market prices. Significantly, low to average income families will not be able to purchase these rental units in due course and count previous rental payments against the price of the house. This leaves these workers with little security of tenure and in a precarious housing situation and without a safety net. Overall, I would consider this ideological view as the root cause of the current homelessness and housing crisis.

Next year, we will have local elections and a possible general election. If you are like me, and want to see an end to the current housing crisis, and prevent such crises from reoccurring in the future, you should demand that your local representative supports the call to include the right to adequate housing in the Irish Constitution, and together we can hold our government to account for its actions.

John O’Shea,

Local Area Representative for the Social Democrats

Email: john.oshea@socialdemocrats.ie

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Local soprano releases new single

Local soprano Mary Culloty O’Sullivan has released her second self-penned single. Following the success of her debut song ‘Forever and a Day’ which was released on July 16 and was aired on radio stations all over the world and on streaming platforms like Spotify, YouTube and iTunes, her second single was released last Friday. ‘Before […]

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Local soprano Mary Culloty O’Sullivan has released her second self-penned single.

Following the success of her debut song ‘Forever and a Day’ which was released on July 16 and was aired on radio stations all over the world and on streaming platforms like Spotify, YouTube and iTunes, her second single was released last Friday.

‘Before You Leave Me’ has a Jazz influence. Mary has been writing her own songs since March this year covering several different genres.

“Tony O’Flaherty of Sonas Studios has brought my songs to life and I am delighted with the production on the songs,” Mary told the Killarney Advertiser.

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Fun Urban Orienteering event coming to Killarney town

The event is free, open to all ages, levels of fitness and is both wheelchair and buggy friendly.Kerry Recreation and Sports Partnership are calling on you, to get out and #BeActive as part of European Week of Sport 2021, which runs from September 23 to 30. Sport Ireland, the national coordinating body for European Week of Sport in […]

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The event is free, open to all ages, levels of fitness and is both wheelchair and buggy friendly.
Kerry Recreation and Sports Partnership are calling on you, to get out and #BeActive as part of European Week of Sport 2021, which runs from September 23 to 30.

Sport Ireland, the national coordinating body for European Week of Sport in Ireland hope that this year’s event will inspire even more people than previous years and has funded multiple flagship as well as local events run by the Network of Local Sports Partnerships, including this ‘Family Street Orienteering Kerry’ event.

“This free event looks to offer everyone an opportunity the get out and be active and maybe try something new,” Gearóid O Doherty, the Coordinator of Kerry Recreation and Sports Partnership said. 

“Urban Orienteering is an activity that you can do on your own or with your family and friends. You get to challenge yourself a little and still go at a pace that suits you – and what a beautiful location to do it all in, Killarney town!

“With many people possibly new to the Kerry region, be that through work, college or otherwise, this is an ideal way to get involved in the community and explore the streets and lanes of Killarney in a fun and active way.”

The Kerry Orienteers Club have designed the courses for this event and are looking forward to the excitement of it all and helping those new to the sport to continue taking part in the months and years that follow.

“We know that, for a lot of people, this will be their first time trying orienteering, but they can rest assured, as we will be there to talk them through it and help them out if needed,” Brendan O’Brien from Kerry Orienteers said.

“If it is something they want to try again, we can signpost them to other events, both locally here in Kerry and indeed nationally. Orienteering is a fantastic sport that allows you to build your skills and confidence, with all events having a variety of routes to cater for all levels.”

To cater for physical distancing and government guidelines, there are several staggered start times for participants to choose from, beginning at 6pm and the last group heading off at 7.30pm. With free t-shirts for all who sign up and additional workshops onsite, from the likes of Leave No Trace Ireland, it is sure to be a fun and vibrant evening, all stemming from the start point at ANAM – Killarney’s Arts and Culture Centre.

Places are limited for this event. Free online registration is available and those looking to attend are encouraged to book their place early to avoid disappointment.

For more information, you can visit any of the Kerry Recreation and Sports Partnership social media accounts or go to www.sportireland.ie.

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