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The Right to Housing in Ireland: A Critical Examination of Economic and Social Policies
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The Right to Housing and How It Has Changed

“Many consider the right to housing a basic human right.  Has the provision of adequate housing for it’s citizens proven problematical in Ireland?  Critically discuss the matter.  Support your answer with reference to Economic and Social Policy related perspectives, both nationally and internationally, utilising up to date and relevant evidence and reference materials

Right to housing and how it has changed The right to housing is articulated most comprehensively in Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Aspects of the right to housing are also set out in a range of international instruments, including EU law. How that right is realised in practice depends on a complex mix of policy issues and choices, including tenure choice, quality of stock, supply, adaptability and affordability, to name but a few. These issues become even more complex in the context of scarcity. In the space of just one decade, Ireland has experienced an economic crash caused by a credit-fuelled oversupply of property, to a homelessness crisis caused by a lack of appropriate accommodation. Between 2006 and 2011, the housing stock in Ireland grew by 225,232. Between 2011 and 2016 that number was 8,800.
There is international and national legislation prohibiting discrimination relating to housing and accommodation services, including in respect of people in receipt of Rent Supplement, housing assistance payments or other social welfare payments. Evidence-based research illustrating if any groups in our society face more discrimination than others is crucial to help our understanding of what choices face our society in seeking to realise people’s right to housing.
greater understanding of discrimination and unequal housing outcomes across certain groups. These are the Survey of Income and Living Conditions (SILC) 2014 and 2015; the Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS) 2004, 2010, 2014, and the 2016 Census module on homelessness. Using a variety of data sources has the advantage of strengthening the evidence base that we can use to inform and direct policy provision in this area.
accessing housing; housing quality; and a profile of the homeless population. The results are disaggregated according to different population groups, which enable us to identify if any groups experience more discrimination than others
The importance of a stable and sustainable supply of good quality housing for our society is incontrovertible. Houses become homes, which in turn create neighbourhoods and communities. These enable members of our society to flourish. All of these components are essential for a good quality of life. People need different levels of support to enable them to live independently in the community. For example, we are now living longer in Ireland and supports to enable older people to continue to live at home continue to grow and diversify. Also, the current policy of removing people with disabilities from congregated settings to live in the community is underway. All of these developments and other issues highlighted in this report will continue to impact on the housing landscape in Ireland
The Irish housing model has traditionally relied on high levels of home ownership. The level of home ownership rose steadily throughout the second half of the 20th Century, reaching a peak of just under 80 per cent in the 1990s (Fahey and Maître, 2004) but subsequently falling to 70 per cent in 2011 (Norris 2016). Social housing schemes formed a second pillar of the Irish housing model, however Ireland was distinctive in the early introduction of tenant purchase schemes, so that ‘from the early 4 | Discrimination and inequality in housing in Ireland 1970s older public housing stock was sold as fast as new public housing was built’ (Fahey and Maître, 2004, p.284). In recent decades, however, the social housing stock has not been adequately replenished, resulting in the proportion of the housing stock comprised of social housing falling from 18 per cent in 1961 to just 9 per cent in 2011 (Byrne and Norris, 2018), before rising marginally to 10 per cent in the 2016 Census.
Since the early 2000s the housing market in Ireland has been in rapid flux. During the economic boom a property bubble developed pushing house prices to unsustainable levels, barring access to those on lower incomes and leading to over-indebtedness among many Irish households (Russell et al., 2011). With the financial crash and subsequent recession, house and rental prices fell but household incomes also took a substantial hit. Consequently, the number of households in mortgage arears swelled and the proportion of households experiencing difficulties meeting housing costs increased (Whelan et al., 2016; Maître and Nolan, 2016).
Mica ****
Micas are types of minerals found in the ground and in rocks excavated in quarries. Muscovite, biotite and phlogopite are the three most common mica group minerals found in rocks, and consequently in building blocks.
Muscovite mica has led to apparent defects in building blocks used in at least 5,000 homes in the northwest, causing cracks to open up in thousands of buildings. Videos posted online show load-bearing blocks crumbling in homeowners’ hands.
From experiences recounted by the Mica Action Group and the Report of the Expert Panel on Concrete Blocks published in 2017, it seems mica attracts moisture from the environment, with external walls in some cases absorbing moisture from the ground like a sponge. The presence of mica affects the strength of the blocks and they eventually crumble, seemingly after about five years.

Policy Issues and Housing Choices

External walls are most exposed to the elements, internal walls are better protected, but not immune to problems.

For practical purposes it is similar. Pyrite or Iron pyrite (FeS2) is a common mineral found in sedimentary and low grade metamorphic rocks.

Walls get web-like cracking, crumbling blocks and plaster cracks, which in the early days looks like minor subsidence or “settling”. But over time many homes have vertical cracks close to the corners that extend from ground to roof.
Statutory Instrument number 288 of 1949 set a 1 per cent at total limit for impurities such as pyrite and mica in concrete blocks. The Expert Panel on Concrete Blocks consulted the National Standards Authority on this for its 2017 report to government. The clear view of the authority – and expert panel – was that the 1 per cent limit still applies.
A protest is due to take place while the Dáil sits at Dublin’s Convention Centre on Tuesday amid calls for a mica redress scheme for thousands of homeowners in the northwest. What is the controversy about?

Micas are types of minerals found in the ground and in rocks excavated in quarries. Muscovite, biotite and phlogopite are the three most common mica group minerals found in rocks, and consequently in building blocks.
Muscovite mica has led to apparent defects in building blocks used in at least 5,000 homes in the northwest, causing cracks to open up in thousands of buildings. Videos posted online show load-bearing blocks crumbling in homeowners’ hands.
From experiences recounted by the Mica Action Group and the Report of the Expert Panel on Concrete Blocks published in 2017, it seems mica attracts moisture from the environment, with external walls in some cases absorbing moisture from the ground like a sponge. The presence of mica affects the strength of the blocks and they eventually crumble, seemingly after about five years.
External walls are most exposed to the elements, internal walls are better protected, but not immune to problems.
For practical purposes it is similar. Pyrite or Iron pyrite (FeS2) is a common mineral found in sedimentary and low grade metamorphic rocks.
Walls get web-like cracking, crumbling blocks and plaster cracks, which in the early days looks like minor subsidence or “settling”. But over time many homes have vertical cracks close to the corners that extend from ground to roof.
‘Rain is dripping through the wall’: Storm Barra batters mica homes
Donegal town dealing with mica: ‘If it was in Dublin, this would already be fixed’
Homeowners facing ‘massive’ costs despite redress, pyrite group says
Statutory Instrument number 288 of 1949 set a 1 per cent at total limit for impurities such as pyrite and mica in concrete blocks. The Expert Panel on Concrete Blocks consulted the National Standards Authority on this for its 2017 report to government. The clear view of the authority – and expert panel – was that the 1 per cent limit still applies.

The Provision of Housing for Marginalized Groups

An impurity/mica level in the region of 17 per cent has been found in blocks in a number of the affected houses in Co Donegal.
The Department of Housing said since 2013, on foot of an EU regulation, there is “a suite of harmonised standards covering most construction products including aggregates, and concrete blocks”. This is called the the Construction Products Regulation.
However the department said: “It should be noted that primary responsibility for demonstrating a construction product’s compliance with the requirements of the Construction Products Regulation rests with the manufacturer of the product.”
The Construction Industry Federation (CIF), through HomeBond Insurance Services, offers an insurance policy for home builders. These offer protection for problems such as “latent defects” and “ structural issues” among others. It is not known how many, if any, of the builders of the affected homes had taken out such policies. Questions were put to the CIF on Monday and a reply is expected.
But it is a moot point according to campaigners as many of the homes were one-off, self-build housing, with the number of “estate houses” thought to be small.
Not exactly. The numbers reported recently have been in the order of 5,000 homes in Donegal and Mayo. But there are more reports of homes in Clare, Sligo and Northern Ireland being affected. The final figure could be closer to 10,000 houses.

The Mica Action Group campaigners claim building blocks from the same supplier were used in public projects over many years. A spokeswoman said the fear was that these blocks may be in shops, schools and even hospitals
he overall cost of a scheme to fix issues in homes affected by mica could reach up to €3.2 billion.
The figure is given in a draft report carried out by a working group on the defective concrete blocks grant scheme.
The working group was set up by Minister for Housing Darragh O'Brien.
It put the current cost of the scheme at €1.4 billion, but said that was based on homeowners' final submissions, the estimated costs of changes requested could rise by €1.8bn to €3.2bn.
The report stated that this is on the basis of capital works and associated costs only.
It said this figure does not take account of the potential costs for other items homeowners have sought, such as compensation and the inclusion of all non-residential buildings affected in the scheme.
The report said that homeowners on the working group advised that the average size of home affected is 2,400sq.ft with "many homes" between 3,000-4,000sq.ft.
The Department of Housing estimates that 6,600 homes may require remediation works as a result of defective concrete blocks.
This figure includes the potentially eligible private homes in Donegal and Mayo, as well as 1,000 social homes and an estimate for homes in other local authorities that may come into the scheme.
The working group agreed to put a number of issues forward for consideration as improvements in the Scheme.
Homeowners and families in Co Donegal hit by the devastating effect of mica have vowed to show the world the “despair and waking nightmare” of living in a crumbling home.
Thousands of people are expected to take part in a protest in Dublin on Friday to mount further pressure on the Government to commit to a 100% redress scheme.
Campaigners want a scheme to help families whose homes have been destroyed or damaged by mica, a mineral that can absorb water, leaving blocks to crack and crumble.
The Government has faced criticism for only offering 90% under the current scheme, leaving property owners with significant bills to repair or rebuild homes.
An estimated 5,000 homes in Co Donegal are affected by defective bricks, with thousands more understood to be in counties Sligo, Clare and Limerick.
A report found that the cost of a full compensation scheme could reach €3.2bn.
The grim reality of Ireland’s housing crisis and the financial strictures it imposes on individuals and families was highlighted in a report last week by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (Ihrec) and the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
It found that lone parents and their children accounted for more than half of all homeless families in the State. These family units made up 53 per cent of homeless families, with fewer than 25 per cent owning their homes, compared with almost 70 per cent of the total population.
They were also four times more likely to have problems of affordability (19 per cent) compared with the general population (5 per cent). The report also highlighted the disadvantages experienced by young people, migrants, people with disabilities, Travellers and others in the Irish housing system.
It zeroed in on affordability as a key metric, noting that despite the introduction of Rent Pressure Zones in late 2016, rents have increased above their pre-crisis levels by almost 40 per cent in Dublin and 20 per cent elsewhere, significantly outstripping wage growth over the same period.
While there are many strands to the State’s housing crisis – supply, accessibility, security of tenure – the lack of purchasing power is central. If those on middle incomes could buy, there wouldn’t be such an shortage of rental accommodation and such upward pressure on rents.

As we are all sadly too aware there is a severe housing shortage, and this has impacted on households on lower incomes the most in recent years. There is a shortage of affordable rental accommodation and successive governments have failed to deliver enough social housing to meet an ever-growing demand.


“Children’s education is suffering. Donegal is like a third-world country.”
“People just want to live in their home, raise their children, but they never thought that they would be going to sleep at night thinking their house is going to collapse, and the weight of the slabs could crush you at any minute. Nobody should ever have to think like that.”
It is devastating that people have lost one of the most important basic right in their lives adequate living accomodations some people having to knock down ther dream homes and start all over again with no help from anyone just because a company thought that they would get away with cheaper blocks to big housing and it’s the people now that have to pay the price.

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