Housing should be a human right in Constitution, says poll majority

Housing should be a human right in Constitution, says poll majority

Housing should be a human right enshrined in the Constitution, according to the majority of those surveyed across Ireland to mark the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

A number of ceremonies will take place around the world to mark the occasion, including the first keynote address of Michael D Higgins’ second term as Uachtarán na hÉireann.

President Higgins will mark the anniversary by delivering the keynote speech at the 17th Annual Civil Society Forum in the Mansion House in Dublin today.

He is also expected to raise the issue of housing in his speech.

“In Ireland today, this question is most pressing for those of our people who are left out of the housing system and forced into homelessness,” President Higgins will tell the Mansion House audience.

“There is not, as yet, a justiciable right to home or housing in either legislation or our Constitution, although the Convention on the Constitution had an important discussion on social and economic rights, which I would hope will be continued. Article 27 of the Universal Declaration does, of course, contain such a right.

“Vindicating that right will not, and cannot, be a matter for courts or lawyers alone, but will fundamentally be a question of how we wish our housing system to be structured. It will be, and we cannot avoid it, be a question of politics.”

Emily Logan, Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, said the findings of the poll reveal that young people in particular are looking to the State to implement a rights-based solution to the housing sector.

    The Amárach Research poll findings from a survey of more than 1,200 people found that:

  • 85% of people believe we still have significant work to do in Ireland to protect human rights and equality, up 6 points from a similar poll carried out in 2015;
  • 82% of people believe that housing should be considered as a human right. This figure rises to 89% among 18- to 24-year-olds;
  • 63% of people believe that a right to housing should be entered in the Constitution. Again, this figure is higher among young people, with 78% of 18- to 24-year-olds backing a constitutional provision;
  • 29% of people identify Travellers as the group most likely to have their human rights infringed or to experience discrimination in Ireland;
  • People ranked job hunting (74%) as the area where people with disabilities are most likely to encounter discrimination, over accessing public transport (66%) or in work (59%);
  • 84% believe that stronger protection for human rights and equality makes the country a better place to live, with 86% agreeing that they care deeply about making Ireland a fairer place to live.

Ms Logan said the findings show that people “care deeply about making Ireland a fairer place to live and in strengthening protections for human rights and equality, but are equally clear that there’s still much more work to do in this area”.

“People are increasingly looking at issues such as housing through a prism of human rights, and in particular young people under 25 are looking at housing and accommodation as an area where a rights-based approach should be taken by the State,” she said.

“At a time where we have seen a worrying trend of countries in Europe and further afield succumb to the incipient rise of populism, unilateralism, racism, and an increasingly narrow and inward-looking vision of statehood, sovereignty, and national belonging, this survey shows a strength of public support across Ireland for human rights and equality and a determination to make positive progress.”

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