Constitutional Convention debates economic rights

Saturday 22 February 2014 18.43
Debate taking place as to whether a right to a home should be included in the Irish Constitution
Debate taking place as to whether a right to a home should be included in the Irish Constitution

The former attorney general Michael McDowell has said the Constitution confers a right to a dwelling on everybody in the Republic. 

He was responding to calls at a meeting of the Constitutional Convention. 

A call was made for the right to a home, along with other social, economic and cultural rights, to be inserted into the Constitution.

The Convention's week-end gathering in Malahide is focussing on the inclusion of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in the Constitution. 

Its 33 legislators and 66 randomly chosen citizens heard presentations from speakers.

The speakers included Mike Allen of the housing organisation Focus Ireland and the former Progressive Democrats leader Michael McDowell.

Mr Allen said the need for a Constitutional right to a home has become even more pressing.

He said that last year double the number of families to become homeless each month from eight to more than 16.

Mr Allen said that, in common with the other economic, social and cultural rights, the right to housing is not well protected in Irish law.

He cited the Constitution's guarantee that the dwelling of every person is inviolable arguing this means the citizen must have a right to a dwelling in the first place.

Mr McDowell accused the Mr Allen and his supporters in the debate of attempting to insert a vague collection of rights into our basic law.

Mr McDowell said that were the vague results inserted that the result would be unintended and unforeseen consequences like those that resulted from the Pro-life amendment in 1982.

The Convention votes on the issue tomorrow around noon.