ICSA rural development chairman Seamus Sherlock has expressed alarm at Minister Alan Kelly’s recent musings at the Forum on Housing and Homelessness suggesting that Article 43 of the Irish constitution, which deals with property rights, may have to be changed.
“Changing an individual’s property rights would do nothing to solve the current homelessness problem and I would see any such change as the thin end of the wedge resulting in the diminution of farmers’ rights over their land”, said Mr Sherlock.
“In any event, the constitution already provides for delimiting the exercise of property rights in favour of the common good. Additional change to this would further weaken the rights of property owners and to what end? It seems to me that this is a fig leaf to excuse the failings of the Government in coming up with solutions and funding to solve the homelessness situation and the wider residential property crisis.”
Homelessness is a serious problem which must be faced up to and eliminated, but neither the problem nor the solution can be laid at the feet of the land /property owner.
Mr Sherlock concluded by saying that ICSA would not tolerate attacks on private property when so much could be done without tinkering with the constitution. We only need to see what happened in Zimbabwe to see why we should cherish a robust set of property rights in the constitution.