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Constitutional convention warned to examine '21st century challenges'

A number of groups have written to the Taoiseach to say that the changes to the Constitution should include rights such as access to housing and healthcare.

Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

THE CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION has not been officially formed yet but could already be in danger of failing to achieve its objectives in the area of basic human rights, a number of groups have warned.

In an open letter to the Taoiseach, more than 20 organisations said that the convention needs to look at how the Constitution can ensure that rights such as access to healthcare and housing are protected, which it described as ‘the challenges of the 21st century”.

The convention is tasked with overhauling the 1937 Bunreacht na hÉireann and is expected to be established next month.

“Rights such as health, housing and adequate income affect every single person in this State,” said Colm O’Gorman of Amnesty International Ireland, which was a signatory to the letter.

Surveys show an overwhelming majority of Irish people want these areas examined by the convention. It would be an incredibly missed opportunity if it doesn’t happen.

A Red C poll found that 81 per cent of people asked agreed that the convention should look at the right to equal access to healthcare, while 78 per cent of people asked believed that it should look at how the Constitution could protect the right to adequate housing.

“This convention has the potential to give citizens the opportunity to have an active role in shaping our Constitution, the fundamental statement of our values as a society,” said O’Gorman.

He said that with the establishment of the commission due to happen shortly, the Government must “open up the agenda and allow for the examination of these rights and the protections they afford”.

The Government has said that the convention will be made up of 100 people, of whom 66 will be members of the public.

The other 33 will be Oireachtas members and a small number of MLAs from political parties in Northern Ireland.

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