[Sinn Fein]

16th July 2003

Sinn Fein makes submission on Private Property and Housing to Joint Oireachtas Committee

Sinn Fein made an oral submission dealing with the issue of private property and the right to housing to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution today. In the submission Sinn Fein argued that, ``social justice must be given pre-eminence to the rights of private property''.

Sinn Fein outlines its belief that ``The protection given to private property in the 1937 Constitution and the contradictions in the relevant articles have acted as a barrier to introducing a right to housing and to controlling the price of land''.

Presenting the submission were Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD and Sinn Fein Councilor John Dwyer. Councillor Dwyer said: ``Sinn Fein believes that the right to housing is a fundamental right and must be enshrined in the constitution. We agree with the right to private property but believe that it is necessary, for the common good, to place limitations on the rights of private property. The constitutional balance must be in favour of the common good over and above the rights of private property.''

The submission covers a range of issues concerning private property and the right to housing including Compulsory Purchase Orders, Rezoning and Planning, House prices, the Price of Development land, Section V of the Planning Act and Accessing the countryside.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD called on the Joint Committee to rule on a number of key issues ``if we are to secure social justice in terms of housing and private property''. Deputy Ó Snodaigh said that there ``needs to be clarity'' in terms of what needs to be addressed in the constitution and what can be addressed by legislation. ``At the moment there is no clarity and therefore issues that are raised in the Dáil in relation to property rights are constantly referred to the constitution and when they are raised in the Constitution Committee we are told that the issue might not fall within its remit. This needs to be rectified.'' he said.

Among the main proposal presented in the submission were Sinn Fein's belief that:

. there are instances where compensation is not merited in relation to Compulsory Purchase Orders

. direct Government intervention is needed to control the price of building land

. a statutory ceiling on the price of land zoned for housing be introduced

. housing should be integrated

. consideration should be given to affording local authorities pre-emptive rights to acquire land zoned for residential use

. the right to housing be enshrined in the Constitution

. ground rents should be abolished

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