Thomas Pringle TD

Pringle: Right to housing must be enshrined in Constitution

Thomas Pringle TD - Right to housing must be enshrined in Constitution

Independent TD for Donegal, Thomas Pringle, said the bill he submitted earlier this year would enshrine the right to housing in the Constitution, which has been recommended by the Ombudsman for Children to address child homelessness.

Deputy Pringle addressed the Dáil today during statements on the Ombudsman for Children’s report, “A Better Normal – eliminating poverty and child homelessness post-Covid.”

Deputy Pringle said: “In order to address child homelessness, the report recommends that ‘Ireland must enshrine in our Constitution the right to housing for everyone in Ireland’. I attempted to introduce this constitutional right in my Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Bill, which I have submitted three times, in 2015, in 2017 and again in January of this year.

“If the Government really wanted to address this issue they could do so through that bill, yet when I submitted it at the start of the year, they delayed yet again and proposed that the bill be deemed to be read a second time in 18 months’ time. This issue is not something that can be left for 18 months. Action is needed now,” he said.

Noting that the last 18 months have been incredibly difficult for children, Deputy Pringle said the ombudsman’s report raised issues of grave importance, particularly in relation to child poverty and child homelessness.

Deputy Pringle said: “The issues addressed are not exhaustive, indeed, all children have suffered under the pandemic. However, those who already experienced low income and underprivileged social engagement have undoubtedly felt the effects in a different way. The points raised in this report require acute attention and there needs to be a solid commitment from Government to address them and to prioritise children in their plan for post-Covid life.

“The report poses an interesting question of whether we actually want a return to ‘normal’ for these children. Was normal good enough? Can we do better? As the report states this is ‘a once in a generation opportunity to change the course of history and provide a better future for some of the most disadvantaged children’. We have an opportunity now to make a real difference and effective change. I believe that we can do so much better for the children of our country,” he said.

Deputy Pringle said children in the direct provision system, who “are already too often overlooked and neglected, have also suffered unique distress throughout the pandemic. The loneliness and isolation and poverty that the children within the direct provision suffer show no sign of abating, despite the best intentions of the White Paper. It has been nearly eight months since the White Paper was published and it has already stalled and fallen behind in its promises.”

He concluded: “We have asked so much of our children over the last 18 months. It is now our turn to give back to them, to ensure that they are prioritised and to make sure that they are not left behind.”

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