MARCH 2015: COLLECTIVE COMPLAINT ADMISSABLE
Limerick Regeneration Watch (LRW) is delighted with the news that the European Committee of Social Rights (CSR) has ruled that the collective complaint submitted on behalf of communities in Limerick and Dublin is admissible.
In recent years LRW and its affiliated organisations, the Weston Gardens Residents’ Association (WGRA), the Moyross Residents’ Alliance (MRA), the Ballinacurra Weston Residents’ Alliance (BWRA) and the Kincora & Carew Parks Concerned Residents’ Action Group (CRAG), have been working with communities in Dublin through the Community Action Network and Tenants First to develop and promote a Human Rights based approach to regeneration. Part of this strategy was the gathering of evidence for a collective complaint to the Council of Europe’s CSR.
“It’s been a long journey to get to this point” said Cathal McCarthy, Chair of LRW and PRO with the WGRA.
“The idea was first mooted in 2010 and by 2011 we were busy gathering evidence in Limerick, which involved finding residents from all four of Limerick’s regeneration areas that were willing to participate in a documentary film made especially for the collective complaint. I want to thank those residents from St. Mary’s Park, Moyross, Ballinacurra Weston and Southill that were interviewed; many of the residents that we approached were afraid to participate as they feared that the Council would punish them by refusing to help them” said Cathal
When Limerick Regeneration first arrived in 2007 it promised much and delivered little. Depopulation and the subsequent boarding-up of vacated houses had a serious impact on the human right of residents to adequate housing. Within days of being boarded-up, such houses were systematically looted for copper causing damage to the adjoining properties and accelerating the onset of penetrating damp due to leaking water mains.
Boarded-up houses were often used by youths for drug parties before being eventually burnt-out, forcing more residents to leave. Many of the affected residents were elderly home owners that were bought-out for a pittance and provided with rented accommodation in other parts of the city.
“Regeneration hasn’t worked in Southill, all it did was knock down houses and break up communities” said Pat Begley, Chair of CRAG.
“Out of the 601 houses that made up O’Malley Park there is only about 220 left and most of them are boarded-up, there are 60 houses left out of the 175 in Keyes Park. We thought that when the Council took over regeneration in 2012 that things would improve, but they didn’t. The Council should be working with all residents’ groups and local Estate Management should be accountable to the community; it’s great that this complaint will be heard and hopefully it will inspire some real change for the better” said Pat.
LRW believes that the gathering of evidence for the collective complaint has already inspired change.
“By 2012 the cat was out of the bag and it was known that we were going to make a complaint to Europe” said Tommy Daly, Chair of the MRA
“The Council are in a big rush to refurbish houses at the moment as part of their new regeneration plan, but some of this work is not up to standard in my view. I am aware of cases where new boilers were not properly fitted and where property was damaged and not repaired” said Tommy.
In November 2013 members of the public were invited by Limerick City Council and the Office of Regeneration (OoR) to make submissions on the Limerick Regeneration Framework Implementation Plan (LRFIP) and to avail of this opportunity to influence the final outcome. LRW’s affiliated organisations engaged fully in this process hoping to see an end to the policy of participation by invitation-only on the local regeneration and local Estate Management committees. Its hopes to influence the final outcome was given an added boost with a letter of support from the Special Rapporteur to the United Nations Human Rights Council, Magdalena Sepúlveda Carmona, for the proposals on community participation in the BWRA & WGRA joint submission to the LRFIP.
“I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the sterling work of the BWRA over the past 5-years, unfortunately the organisation became defunct earlier this year when it failed to establish a committee at its AGM in January. Its work with the WGRA proved that the local consultations merely underpinned our 'right to be ignored’; we need legislation to uphold our Human Rights and ensure that what happened in Limerick never happens again. Hopefully this is something that might happen because of the collective complaint” said Cathal.
A press conference was held in Dublin on Tuesday, 24th March 2015 at 10:30am in the Bluebell Community Centre to announce the ruling of the European Committee of Social Rights on the Collective Complaint against Ireland for sub-standard housing issues on local authority estates. The The complaint had been lodged on behalf of the residents. in July 2014 by thefFrench based FIDH, (The International Federation for Human Rights) in collaboration with its associated member in Ireland FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres).
| List of Communities
||A Summary of Complaint Issues
St’ Mary’s Park,
Matt Talbot Court,
St. Teresa’s Gardens
Click here for the full Collective Complaint
1. Poor Building Standards
• Substandard conditions – internally and externally
• Repairs not carried out or done so unsatisfactorily.
• Failure of Local Authorities to accept structural nature of complaints.
• Poor quality of work, materials, regulation.
• No national survey of housing conditions for over a decade
2. Impacts on Health and Family
• Health impacts on children, families and vulnerable people.
• Mental health impacts
3. Lack of Participation and Discrimination
• Exclusion of vulnerable population from decision making and participation.
• No effective remedy in the form of an independent complaints mechanism for Local Authority tenants.
• Discrimination of local authority tenants in terms of regulations and standards and enforcement of same.
4. Lack of Safety and Security
• Inadequate estate management.
• Increased anti-social behaviour and lack of adequate state response.
• Displacement impacts on people and communities.
5. Failed Regeneration
• Inadequate funding for regeneration
• No legislative framework for regeneration.
• Absence of area specific regeneration plans, timeframes and targets.