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File photo of houses being built in Co Kildare. RollingNews.ie
Housing Crisis

Amnesty International hits out at Ireland's 'failing' housing system in human rights report

The organisation today published its annual State of the World’s Human Rights report.

A NEW REPORT by Amnesty International has deemed Ireland’s housing crisis and the record number of people in emergency accommodation “a stain” on the country’s reputation. 

Published today, the organisation’s annual State of the World’s Human Rights report highlights the state of human rights in 155 countries.

The report states how governments across the world have cast humanity into “an era devoid of effective international rule of law, with civilians in conflicts paying the highest price”, with rapidly changing artificial intelligence left to “create fertile ground for racism, discrimination and division in landmark year for public elections”. 

It particularly referenced the ongoing conflict in Gaza, and stated that following the 7 October Hamas attacks, Israel instigated “a campaign of retaliation that became a campaign of collective punishment”.

“It is a campaign of deliberate, indiscriminate bombings of civilians and civilian infrastructure, of denial of humanitarian assistance and an engineered famine.”

Looking at Ireland, the report picked out the housing crisis as a failure on the Government’s part. It states that “the crisis of housing availability and affordability worsened”, leading to record numbers of people experiencing homelessness, including children. 

“In November, 13,514 people were living in emergency homelessness accommodation. This included 4,105 children, the largest ever number and 17% higher than during the same month in 2022,” the report states.

It points out that in its concluding observations published in February, the UN
Committee on the Rights of the Child called on the government to address the root
causes of homelessness among children, strengthen measures to phase out emergency accommodation schemes and significantly increase the availability of social housing for families.

It also points out that a review of housing policy by the Housing Commission “had still not been published, and a constitutional referendum on housing promised by the government had not been scheduled”. 

Executive director of Amnesty International Ireland Stephen Bowen said it is “appalling” that over 4,000 children are living in emergency accommodation, while tens of thousands of young people ”will never be able to afford a home of their own”.

“This is due to failure after failure by government after government to afford the people of Ireland adequate housing rights protections,” he said. 

Housing has been treated as a private investment opportunity, not as a social good and a human right that everyone has a right to enjoy.

He continued: “Promises were made by this government to call a referendum on housing, and a review of housing policy by the government-commissioned Housing Commission has, so far, failed to be published.

“The government need to take bolder and more decisive steps to solve the housing crisis and, to start, fulfil their commitment to a referendum. We clearly need a constitutional right to housing to redirect government policy.”

The report also highlighted how the housing crisis is impacting the availability for asylum seekers, referencing a report by the Ombudsman for Children which showed that the government’s “crisis-driven response” to significantly increased numbers of people seeking protection affected the welfare of children living in state-provided accommodation.

Other issues raised include failings in abortion care, with the report highlighting how the government’s review of the 2018 Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act found “concerning gaps in, and barriers to the provision of, appropriate abortion care”.

“Healthcare is a human right and these gaps in both law and practice need to be addressed with urgency,” Bowen said.

“Too many pregnant women are still having to travel overseas and being stigmatised, and the fact that some health care professionals are refusing to provide a health service on the basis of conscience is unacceptable.”

“There is no human right to refuse to provide healthcare on grounds of conscience or religious beliefs in international law. Quite the opposite – the Government is obliged to protect everyone’s human right to access healthcare.

“At a minimum the government must prioritise swift implementation of the recommendations brought forward in the review which was published a year ago.”

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Need more clarity and context on how migration is being discussed in Ireland? Check out our new FactCheck Knowledge Bank for essential reads and guides to finding good information online.

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