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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 activities this weekend for National Heritage Week

A number of events will take place in Killarney this weekend as part National Heritage Week 2022 which runs until this Sunday. This year’s theme is biodiversity and sustainability. Tomorrow […]

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A number of events will take place in Killarney this weekend as part National Heritage Week 2022 which runs until this Sunday.

This year’s theme is biodiversity and sustainability. Tomorrow (Saturday) the Life in the Bogs – Family Funday in Cronin’s Yard, Beaufort, runs from 10.30am – 2.30pm.
Activities include; Bog in a Bottle activity – learn about how bogs are made, Plants of the Bog – learn about the different plants in the bog and how to tell them apart, Pond Dipping in Bog Pool – Use nets and find out what creepy crawlies can be found in Bog pools, Birds and Mammals of the Bog – learn about the different animals that live in our bogs, and a Scavenger Hunt. Tickets are free but bring €2 for parking.

On Sunday the Harpers for Heritage concert takes place at Muckross Schoolhouse with Fiachra Ó Corragáin, Máire Ní Chathasaigh and Chris Newman from 7.30pm to 9pm.

There’ll also be an exhibition from the Killarney National Park Photography Competition based on the theme of ‘Our History, Our Future’ in Killarney House and Gardens while the Me and the Moon will create Bee/Bug hotels and sustainable eco bird feeders today (Friday) and tomorrow (Saturday) from 11am – 4pm at Muckross Schoolhouse.

The Heritage Council is encouraging people to visit www.heritageweek.ie to see what other events are taking place in their locality or across the country. Participants can browse the website and create a bespoke National Heritage Week ‘Events Trail’ to help them plan their week according to their location, their particular heritage interests and their preferred event type, such as a festival, performance, exhibition or re-enactment.

“This year, National Heritage Week looks to the past to create a better future,” Chief Executive of the Heritage Council of the Heritage Council, Virginia Teehan, said.

“The theme of sustainable heritage and biodiversity encourages us all to reflect on how our history and heritage can play a part in protecting our planet. Whether it’s learning a new skill like embroidery, blacksmithing or pottery making; better understanding how to prevent biodiversity loss in our own back gardens or country lanes; or gaining fresh insight into the history of our art, music or the Irish language and sharing this knowledge among friends and family, there are endless ways to get involved. I would encourage people to visit the National Heritage Week website and browse the vast array of events and projects taking place and plan their week.”

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Killarney girl has an important part to play in Rose Festival

By Michelle Crean A little Killarney girl has had her dreams come true after being selected as a Rose Bud in this year’s Rose of Tralee International Festival. Chloe Nott […]

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By Michelle Crean

A little Killarney girl has had her dreams come true after being selected as a Rose Bud in this year’s Rose of Tralee International Festival.

Chloe Nott (7) from Fossa was thrilled to find out that she has been paired with Arizona Rose Sophie Owen.

She’s now super excited as the Festival kicks off tonight (Friday) and is looking forward to being part of the big parades which attract thousands to the streets of Tralee tomorrow (Saturday) and again on Sunday.

“We found out about three weeks ago, she was picked from hundreds from all around the country,” Chloe’s mom Gemma told the Killarney Advertiser.

Last Saturday the Rose Buds came together for the first time in the Meadowlands Hotel in Tralee where they met the Kerry Rose Édaein O’Connell and received their sashes.

Tonight (Friday) they’ll enjoy a party in the Meadowlands and have a busy weekend meeting and greeting people when they take part in the Festival’s activities including a trip to the Kingdom Greyhound Stadium.

“I’m so excited to meet my Arizona Rose,” Chloe, who is going into Second Class in Fossa National School, said.

Gemma and her husband Eric and son Luke (9) went to Reidys in Killarney to tell Chloe the exciting news.

“My mom gave me a rose and told me I was a Rose Bud. After she told me I was bursting with excitement.”

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