25 Oct

Council of Europe says ‘Ireland Failed To Provide Adequate Housing Conditions’

Tenants  in Ireland led by Community Action Network (CAN) and other NGOs such as FLAC Welcome European Committee of Social Rights Finding That Ireland Has Failed To Provide Adequate Housing Conditions on Local Authority Estates.

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.

This is the beginning. The Decision means that the Irish Government must now take stock of the housing conditions, and put in place a timed programme with clear targets to address the issues. They will have to report on progress to the Council of Europe at regular intervals.

The Community Action Network (CAN), one of our partner in the “Our Voices” project and other NGOs have been working with local authority tenants across Ireland who live in deplorable conditions – a violation of their Human Rights.

The Council of Europe provides for groups whose Human Rights as set out in the EU Revised Charter of Fundamental Rights are not being protected by the State to take a Collective Complaint. CAN organised tenants to gather the evidence needed to substantiate the Complaint, supported by The Centre for Housing Law, Right and Policy at NUI Galway and Ballymun Community Law Centre. In 2014, a complaint was finally submitted by a recognized European Human Rights body FIDH, to the Council , with the support of affiliate member FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres) along with PILA (Public Interest Law Alliance). After two years of deliberation, the Committee finally announced its decision on October 23rd 2017!

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.

At a press conference on Monday 23rd October, following the announcement, Cecilia Forrestal of Community Action Network 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.’

Debbie Mulhall, a resident and community leader in Dolphin House said: ‘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.’

This is the beginning. The Decision means that the Irish Government must now take stock of the housing conditions, and put in place a timed programme with clear targets to address the issues. They will have to report on progress to the Council of Europe at regular intervals.

CAN, Flac and other Irish Community Groups want to thank all those who helped us to reach this point, and particularly those residents who have worked tirelessly to assert their rights. They look forward to building on this momentous result.

The full legal Decision on Merits by the European Committee of Social Rights is available here.

Read Pila’s article here.

To read the case report by the IHREC click here.

Further Background:

The Revised European Social Charter was ratified by Ireland in 2000. The Charter sets out legal standards in economic, social and cultural human rights, in areas such as housing and accommodation, education, social welfare and protection, and in employment. It also protects vulnerable groups such as children, people with disabilities and older people. It is the Council of Europe’s counterpart for economic, social and cultural rights to the European Convention on Human Rights.


In contrast to the European Convention on Human Rights, the supervision of the European Social Charter provides for a ‘collective complaints’ mechanism where representative organisations of employers, of workers, and certain international non-governmental organisation holding participatory status with the Council of Europe may take a legal challenge concerning a general situation rather than a breach for an individual person. The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)  is one of the NGOs recognised by the Council of Europe for the purposes of collective complaints procedure.

The article of the European Social Charter which Ireland has been found to be in violation of, is as follows:

Article 16, Part I:The family as a fundamental unit of society has the right to appropriate social, legal and economic protection to ensure its full development. 

Article 16, Part II: The right of the family to social, legal and economic protection. With a view to ensuring the necessary conditions for the full development of the family, which is a fundamental unit of society, the Parties undertake to promote the economic, legal and social protection of family life by such means as social and family benefits, fiscal arrangements, provision of family housing, benefits for the newly married and other appropriate means.”

  • The legal basis for the decision on merits is Article 16 of the Revised European Social Charter. Ireland has not accepted Article 31 of the Charter which guarantees the right to housing, and the Irish government argued that the complaint focuses on matters that ‘in substance fall within Article 31 of the Charter’. However, the European Committee of Social Rights decided that some of the issues also fall within the scope of Article 16 of the Charter in so far as they relate to family housing. (paragraph 24 of the Decision on Merits)
  • The European Committee of Social Rights stated that assessments of the conditions of local housing are carried out at ‘considerable intervals’ and that ‘no national timetable for the refurbishment of local authority housing stock exists’. (paragraphs 115 and 120)
  • The European Committee of Social Rights also noted ‘that many of the local authority estates were some time back, ear-marked for regeneration, amounting to Government recognition that they were, inter alia, in poor condition’. Although new regeneration programmes have subsequently been developed, ‘not all of these to date have been completed, with the result that certain local authority tenants remain living in substandard housingc onditions’. (paragraph 117)
  • The Committee found that sewage invasions, contaminated water, dampness, and persistent mould raised ‘serious concerns’ for habitability. It particularly noted ‘the high number of residents in certain estates in Dublin complaining of sewage invasions (for example the Dolphin House complex) years after the problems were first identified’. (paragraph 119)

See also the ATD Ireland Human Rights Leaflet

 

  
17 Oct

With all our own two hands we can change the world! Let’s walk as one for a inclusive society!

Will citizens around the country play a role
to make next Irish National Action Plan
for Social Inclusion the best ever?

Marking the 25th anniversary of the United Nations’ Day for the Eradication of Poverty, All Together in Dignity launched a call to action in Leinster House with the support of Maureen O’Sullivan TD and the SAOL project.

The call “Walking as One for an Inclusive Society: A Call to Action on the People of Ireland” aims to network citizens, workers, leaders, managers, carers, teachers, trainers, parents, young people who are ready to be contribute to the new national action plan for social inclusion.

ATD with the support of old and new allies would like to contribute to strong participatory process to make the next Anti-Poverty Plan the best ever. Those who today live with poverty and social exclusion deserve it. They also should have the opportunity help develop this new plan. And when the plan is in place they should be able to play their part to ensure it is implemented.

We believe that with “Our Own Two Hands We Can Change the World”!

2017 marks twenty years since Ireland’s first comprehensive plan to address poverty: the National Anti-Poverty Strategy 1997-2006. The Irish Government is currently evaluating the National Action Plan for Social Inclusion 2007-2017 and aims to publish a new plan in 2018.  Official consultations are expected in the autumn and a draft of the new plan may be available later next year.

ATD Ireland and various partners will collect signatures in the coming weeks. Social Justice Day 2018 (20th February 2018) will be a first deadline to assess this mobilisation. Responding to the feedback this call generates from citizens around the country, ATD plans to initiate a dialogue with the signatories and with the team of the Minister Regina Doherty in charge of the preparation of the plan.

As the 2017 international Call to Action www.poverty-stop.org ended with a meeting of ATD delegates with the highest officials at the UN in New York,  ATD Ireland launched on the 17 October 2017 a national Call to Action related to the Irish commitment to implement the UN 2030 Agenda and its Goal 1: To end poverty in all its forms everywhere by 2030.

  
13 Oct

It’s about giving young people a voice: the ATD Youth Group will run “Ireland, I have a dream” with a grant from the Coca Cola Thank You Fund!

‘It’s about giving young people a voice’ said PJ Gallagher at the Thank You Fund 2017 launch. ‘Coca-Cola’s objective was to find projects that would inspire and support young people, and there is no doubt the recipients will do exactly that. I am humbled by the people working in communities throughout the island of Ireland,” he added, “and believe that the impact of the work they do with young people has an immeasurable impact on our society”

On 12 October 2017, comedian and Thank You Fund Ambassador, PJ Gallagher awarded ATD’s Youth Group with a grant of €5,000 to run the project “Ireland, I Have A Dream”!

Coca-Cola has announced the recipients of its 2017 Thank You Fund, a €100,000 purse which recognises the work of community organisations, non-profits and other groups in Ireland and Northern Ireland. The presentations were made at Zeminar, a youth conference event taking place at the RDS in Dublin. 14 groups in total received funding, for their innovative projects in supporting and inspiring young people. Among the groups arwarded are: The Little Museum of Dublin, An Cosán, Leave No Trace Ireland, Oasis Caring in Action Antrim.

We are proud to announce that the ATD Youth Group (the new UC youth Group – Unity in the Community) has been chosen too!

Here is a video the group prepared to pitch for their project:

 

About the project

‘Ireland, I Have a Dream’ will invite young members of deprived communities to write a speech inspired by Martin Luther King’s legacy.

4th of April 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of MLKs death and although he is most famous for his work in civil rights he was also an anti-poverty activist.

Through this creative writing process we want young people to find strength in sharing their experiences, finding their individual and collective voice with the aim of empowering participants and inspiring others to keep fighting to stop poverty.

Martin Luther King was a role model and leader to millions. His speeches empowered people to find their voice and come together to take action. There are far too many young people living in persistent poverty in Ireland. The  project is to help young people to learn about MLK and use his legacy as a source of inspiration and empowerment.

We aim to encourage them to find their own voice, share their dreams, become leaders and ultimately role models for others through the active participation in a creative writing exercise. Participants will be encouraged to write about the dreams they have to stop persistent poverty in Ireland through the context of their own story.

During ‘Ireland, I Have a Dream’ the Youth Groupe “Unity in the Community” will empower other young people living from deprived communities, facilitate a series of creative writing workshops and organise an  event on 4th April 2018 to present all the “Ireland I have a dream speeches”.

  
02 Oct

Are 24 hours enough? Stand Up, Speak Out, Sing Loud!

To mark the UN End Poverty Day in Dublin, ATD Ireland invited citizens in Dublin to “Stand Up, Speak Out, Sing Loud” series of event startind the 16 October at 7pm and finishing the 17 October with an event from 7pm to 9pm!

Discover pictures and videos of the ATD events
and many more the Gallery 2017
prepared by the Irish 17 October Committee!
Visit starts here!