Human Rights and Equality Commission Challenges Government to Acknowledge Responsibility on Housing Rights

Council of Europe Findings on Housing in Ireland Sees State in Breach of its Obligations

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (“the Commission”) has welcomed today’s the Council of Europe’s finding that the State remains in breach of its obligations under the European Social Charter to provide appropriate accommodation to Travellers and social housing tenants in Ireland.

In June 2020 the Commission made its written report to the European Committee of Social Right (ECSR), which today sets out that the State has failed to take timely and effective action to address the inadequate conditions in social housing and to ensure access to housing supply.

The Commission challenges the State to acknowledge its responsibility to promote access to housing of an adequate standard, to prevent and reduce homelessness with a view to its gradual elimination, and to make the price of housing accessible to those without adequate resources.

The Revised European Social Charter is a binding human rights treaty that Ireland ratified in 2000.

Sinéad Gibney Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission stated:

“We welcome today’s finding from the Council of Europe that the State is failing to meet its obligations to provide people with decent and appropriate housing. This is particularly acute when it comes to social housing and in respect of Traveller accommodation.

“As a Commission we continue to see through our legal casework, and through the work of advocacy groups such as the Community Action Network, dire situations of seriously ill children left without access to running water, of families living with water and mould running down their walls, of rodent infestations. This is Ireland in the 21st century and we shouldn’t need the Council of Europe to remind us from Strasbourg that this is unacceptable.

“The effect of these inadequate conditions on the health of Travellers has become more pronounced due to the threat of Covid-19, but after COVID-19 has passed our concern is that Travellers will still be left with a chronic lack of appropriate accommodation.

“The Commission reiterates again today that housing is not a commodity. We each need a safe and secure space for our children to learn and grow, and where we can gather as families to share our lives and experiences.”


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Brian Dawson, IHREC Communications Manager,

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Notes to editor:

The Council of Europe report is available at the following link:

The full submission made by the Commission to the Council of Europe in June 2020 is available at the following link:

The Government of Ireland submitted its 17th National Report to the European Committee of Social Rights on the implementation of the European Social Charter in December 2019.

This Commission report responded to that State report and its specific update on its response to four collective complaints:

  • Collective Complaint 83/2012: European Confederation of Police (EuroCOP) v. Ireland
  • Collective Complaint 100/2013: European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) v. Ireland
  • Collective Complaint 110/2014: International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) v. Ireland
  • Collective Complaint 112/2014: European Organisation of Military Associations (EUROMIL) v. Ireland

The European Social Charter

The Revised European Social Charter is a binding human rights treaty that Ireland ratified in 2000 (replacing the State’s accession to an earlier European Social Charter that had been ratified in 1964).

The Charter sets out legal standards in economic, social and cultural human rights, in areas such as housing and accommodation, education, social welfare and protection, and in employment. It also protects vulnerable groups such as children, people with disabilities and older people. It is the Council of Europe’s counterpart for economic, social and cultural rights to the European Convention on Human Rights.