Socio-Economic Rights, the Constitution and the ECHR Act 2003: O’Donnell v South Dublin County Council in the Supreme Court

Supreme CourtThis note is based on MacMenamin J.’s decision, available here. SCOIRL have a succinct post on the outcome in this case. A decision was also given by McKechnie J, and is not yet available. However, I understand that McKechnie J. came to the same conclusion, albeit for different reasons. With thanks to Patricia Brazil for providing me with a copy of the available decision. As this is a longer post that usual, you can find a copy of this post here.

The Context

On Friday, 13 March 2015, the Supreme Court gave an important decision in the case of O’Donnell v South Dublin County Council (not yet on courts.ie, Irish Times report here). The case revolved around the statutory duties upon South Dublin County Council (SDCC) in the area of housing and Traveller accommodation. The High Court, in a number of cases: Doherty v SDCC (2007), O’Donnell v SDCC (2007) (Laffoy J.) and O’Donnell v SDCC (2008) (Edwards J) (discussed here, pp 13-14), considered the duties of local authorities under Irish housing law and the impact of the ECHR Act 2003. The Irish Supreme Court have been exceptionally conservative when it has come to interpreting the Constitution as providing any form of socio-economic rights duties on the State.

The European Court of Human Rights has been reluctant to interfere with decisions of state/local housing authorities in the housing law arena. The ECtHR has stated that Article 3 and Article 8 ECHR cannot be interpreted as providing a duty on the State to provide everybody with a home, unless there are very exceptional circumstances at play (see, M.S.S. v Belgium and Greece, discussed in detail here).

The decision on Friday, 13 March 2015 in O’Donnell v South Dublin County Council provides at least a signal, that in very exceptional circumstances, legislative duties coupled with constitutional/ECHR rights may protect socio-economic rights. However, as will become clear below, the decision has not resulted in the provision of accommodation to Ellen (or other members of the O’Donnell family) and Ellen continues to live in accommodation that is inhuman and degrading. Continue reading “Socio-Economic Rights, the Constitution and the ECHR Act 2003: O’Donnell v South Dublin County Council in the Supreme Court”

Socio-Economic Rights, the Constitution and the ECHR Act 2003: O’Donnell v South Dublin County Council in the Supreme Court

Rights versus Remuneration: The English NHS and Abortion Services for Women from Northern Ireland

nhsWe welcome the following guest post from Sylvia de MarsSylvia is a Lecturer in Law at Newcastle University whose primary research interest is the interaction of EU free movement law with the organisation of public services in the Member States. She holds a PhD from the University of Nottingham.

Given that my  research considers the access rights of EU nationals to the English NHS, last week’s England and Wales High Court decision in R (on the application of A & Anor) v Secretary of State for Health didn’t come as much of a surprise, but remains regrettable. There are two dimensions to this case, which dealt with the question of whether or not Northern Ireland residents can obtain abortions with the English NHS free of charge.  The first dimension is a public law one, looking primarily at the organisation and funding of the healthcare services in the United Kingdom, and the second is a human rights one.  Continue reading “Rights versus Remuneration: The English NHS and Abortion Services for Women from Northern Ireland”

Rights versus Remuneration: The English NHS and Abortion Services for Women from Northern Ireland

ECtHR Dismisses Challange in Same Sex Marriage Case

A five judge panel of the  Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights has decided not to allow a full hearing take place in relation to the case of Schalk and Kopf v. Austria. In Schalk, the ECtHR found that there was no violation of Article 8 or Article 12 (alone or in conjunction with Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights) where a state did not provide for same-sex civil marriage. For my previous blog post on this decision, see here. As this judgment is now final, it is worthwhile to point out that the original chambers judgment on same-sex families as having protection under the right to family life under Article 8 ECHR still stands. UK Human Rights Blog has further commentary on the impact of this decision.

ECtHR Dismisses Challange in Same Sex Marriage Case