Housing and the Constitution

In April 2004, the All-Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution published its Ninth Progress Report. The Report discusses whether the provisions of the Irish Constitution concerning property rights obstruct social justice and the common good in the area of land and housing, with regard to purchase, planning and infrastructural development.

The opening lines of chapter 1 of the Report state its origin and purpose:

“In February 2000 the Taoiseach ...asked the committee to consider the present constitutional provisions in respect of property rights and specifically the necessity for up-dating those provisions which pertain to planning controls and infrastructural development.  In effect, therefore, the committee was asked to traverse much of the ground covered by the Report of the Committee on the Price of Building Land in 1973 ('the Kenny Report') and to examine afresh the question of whether the Constitution imposes unnecessary impediments to legislation which would either control or otherwise regulate the price of building land on the one hand or which would seek to eliminate many of the obstacles to the speedy roll-out of major infrastructural projects on the other hand.
In this context, the committee considers that its principal function is to examine the property rights provisions of the Constitution generally (albeit principally from the standpoint of the planning and development process) and to express a view on whether, as commonly perceived, they are weighted too heavily in favour of the individual.”


This is what the Report does, in language that is clear, focused and incisive.