Deputy Thomas Pringle says the people should have been allowed to vote on constitutional protections for economic, social and cultural rights.
The Donegal TD said: “It’s very disappointing, but not surprising, that the Government would delay my bill, which would give people their say on enshrining fundamental economic, social and cultural rights in the Constitution.
“If, as the government says, there is no need for these rights to be protected, why won’t the Government put the question to the people? This shouldn’t be about party politics. This is about human rights.
“Our campaign to secure protections for these rights will continue.”
The Dáil voted 85-58 on Thursday afternoon to defer Deputy Pringle’s bill, Thirty-Seventh Amendment of The Constitution (Economic, Social and Cultural Rights) Bill 2018, for 18 months.
Green Party TDs were part of the Government vote to defer, even though Ministers Eamon Ryan and Catherine Martin supported the same bill when Deputy Pringle brought it to the 32nd Dáil and the Green Party was in opposition.
Opposition parties and members last month joined with Deputy Pringle in voicing opposition to the Government amendment to delay the second reading of the bill.
Deputy Pringle said: “The Government called for the delay to allow for greater analysis. But we signed up to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 1973, and ratified it in 1989.
“How much time does this Government need?” he asked.
The Government in 2012 signed the optional protocol to the international covenant, which provides for a complaints procedure for people who believe economic, social or cultural rights have been violated. But the protocol was never ratified.
Deputy Pringle said: “Signing the optional protocol means nothing without ratification.
“More than 11 countries, including such ‘radical’ countries as Germany, Portugal and Finland, have these rights protected in their constitutions. Why can’t we do it here?”
This is the third time that Deputy Pringle has introduced a Private Member’s Bill that would lead to a referendum on constitutional protections for those rights, such as housing, education and health.
Deputy Pringle said: “It is the people’s Constitution. Let them have their say.”
The deputy is also urging the public to sign an online petition in support of the bill before it comes back before the Dáil.
The petition is available here: https://my.uplift.ie/petitions/support-the-economic-social-cultural-rights-referendum-bill-1