DONEGAL TD Thomas Pringle will tomorrow bring a Private Members Bill to the Dáil which he believes will offer constitutional protections for economic, social and cultural rights.
The Killybegs-based Independent says his bill would lead to a referendum on constitutional protections for issues such as the right to housing, health and mental health, and trade union representation.
Deputy Pringle said he hoped it will be ‘third time lucky’ for his Amendment of the Constitution (Economic, Social and Cultural Rights) Bill.
This bill was also debated in the 31st Dáil in May 2015 and in the 32nd Dáil in March 2017.
Deputy Pringle said: “Why do I keep resubmitting this Bill for debate? Because of its importance to our human rights.
“Ireland signed up to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 1973, ratified it in 1989, and have done nothing with it since.
“A previous government set up a Constitutional Convention and in its final meeting in February 2013, it discussed this exact issue and 85 per cent of members voted in favour of amending the constitution for inclusion of these rights, to be realised progressively and within available resources.
“Why have governments failed to act on the will of the people? It is the people’s Constitution after all.”
Deputy Pringle has been in contact with Amnesty Ireland on its economic, social and cultural rights campaign and is also linking in with other civil society organisations who have been active in the area.
He said: “This bill would be an anchor for the rights to housing, health and education to be provided for on the basis of need at all times. It would give Irish citizens a strengthened right to hold the government to account for how the State manages affairs, and put the people of Ireland at the centre of government.
“When the Troika came to Portugal, they weren’t able to destroy their public housing system because of constitutional protection. We need this in Ireland, too.
“This isn’t about party politics. This is about human rights. I look forward to tomorrow’s discussion.”