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Press Release

A press conference with tenants and supporting organisations took place Monday,  23 October 11 am at The Witness Gallery, The GPO, O’Connell Street, Dublin 1.

Local authority tenants have welcomed a landmark decision by the European Committee of Social Rights, published this morning. The decision has found that Ireland has failed to take sufficient and timely measures to ensure the right to housing of an adequate standard for many families living in local authority housing across the country.

The Committee found Ireland in violation of Article 16 of the Revised Social Charter, which protects the right of the family to social, legal and economic protection, including the provision of family housing.

The Committee recognised that the conditions advanced by the complaint go the core of adequate housing. In particular, it found that frequent sewage invasions, persistent dampness, mould and contaminated water experienced by tenants raise serious concerns as to both habitability and access to essential services. The Committee also raised the impact on tenants of delays and stalling of regeneration programmes

It is estimated that close to 355,000 people live in local authority housing in Ireland. There are over 130,000 local authority homes in total.

The decision is a result of a collective complaint, the evidence for which was gathered over five years through the work of Community Action Network working with tenants from 20 local communities, closely supported by The Centre for Housing Law, Right and Policy at NUI Galway and Ballymun Community Law Centre. It was lodged in 2014 against Ireland on behalf of local tenants by FIDH, the International Federation for Human Rights, with the support of affiliate member FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres) along with PILA (Public Interest Law Alliance).

Debbie Mulhall, who has lived at Dolphin House in Dublin’s south inner city all her life, said that the European Committee’s decision was a welcome affirmation of the years of difficult campaigning that tenants have undertaken to improve their dire living conditions and to meet their right to adequate housing.

This decision recognizes for the first time that that it is the state’s landlords, the local authorities, that have failed to take the adequate measures necessary to ensure our basic right to proper housing.” she said.

For years, tenants have put forward proof that we are living in unacceptable, unhealthy and uninhabitable conditions,” she continued. “This has been constantly disputed. We have been consistently told that the dire conditions are of our own making, that persistent damp and mould is caused because of drying clothes or steaming pots, for example. This decision puts an end to this and finds that our right to housing of an adequate standard has been violated.”

Cecilia Forrestal of Community Action Network (CAN) said that she was hopeful that the Government would see the European decision as a positive contribution to its overall housing vision and would take the necessary steps to bring its laws, policies and practices back into line with European housing standards. Member states are obliged to take steps to address any violations found by the European Committee.

This is an important benchmark decision and it demands a serious response,” she said. “We urge the Minister for Housing particularly to see this decision as a positive contribution to Irish housing policy. Nobody wants to see Irish State housing being run down. These Irish citizens have a right to a decent home, in particular the children living in State housing.”

Eilis Barry, CEO of FLAC, said that the decision marked a milestone in tenants’ long campaign for their rights.

The Committee’s decision sets a milestone in local authority tenants’ in Ireland long fight for their rights, which the Irish Government has so far failed to uphold,” she said. “It sets a precedent for other people living in substandard conditions across Europe and inspires them to use this valuable mechanism to challenge violations and see their right to adequate housing and other Charter rights recognised as a result of this decision.”

The decision of the European Committee also noted that no complete statistics on the condition of local authority housing have been collated for 15 years - since 2002 – and there is no national timetable for the refurbishment of local authority houging. It also noted that a significant number of regeneration programmes have not been completed, leaving many local authority tenants in unacceptable housing conditions.

The European Committee of Social Rights did not find in favour of a number of other grounds primarily because of a lack of substantive evidence due in the most part to the limited resources of the tenants and their support organisations.

For more information contact:

Edel Hackett, Tel: 087-2935207
Cecilia Forrestal, Tel: 086-1030721
Dr Padraic Kenna, 086-4176484


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