Irish Council of Civil Liberties: BC(A)R SI.9

by Bregs Blog admin team

 civil rights banner

“Civil liberties are personal guarantees and freedoms that the government cannot abridge, either by law or by judicial interpretation. Though the scope of the term differs amongst various countries, some examples of civil liberties include the freedom from slavery and forced labor, freedom from torture and death, the right to liberty and security, freedom of consciencereligionexpressionpressassembly and associationspeech, the right to privacy, the right to equal treatment and due process and the right to a fair trial, as well as the right to life. Other civil liberties may also include the right to own property, the right to defend oneself, and the right to bodily integrity. Within the distinctions between civil liberties and other types of liberty, there are distinctions between positive liberty/positive rights and negative liberty/negative rights.”

The following letter was sent by Amanda Gallagher, Self-builder, on April 6th 2014 to the Irish Council of Civil Liberties.


Dear Irish Council of Civil Liberties,

We are a Co. Sligo family with 5 young children. We were planning to build our new dream family home in the Summer – and when it was complete we would be handing the keys of our crrent council house back to the State to help another family in need.  We are totally devastated at the new Building Control laws that were implemented on March 1st.  Our story was covered on RTEs Liveline, Morning Ireland, the Morning Edition Show and Six One News on February 28th.  We had hoped our pleas for to Minister Hogan for a deferral of these regulations would be listened to – how naive we were!

The plan we had was that our new home would be ‘self built’ – my husband is a fine electrician, and he would manage the entire build, we would have employed some tradesmen also.  We had a modest budget – and were all set to realise our dream.  These new laws however have abruptly ended the days of self build / direct labour – the preferred method of building homes in Ireland for centuries. We now have the reputation as the only country in the world to ban self building – this is most shocking and is something our government should not be proud of.

Across the water in the UK – they reward, support and encourage self builders – they give incentives to people to get up and build their own family homes – i’m sure you have seen Grand Designs, Building the Dream etc..  most enjoyable TV shows following self builders.  Germany, Sweden, Austria, all of Europe in fact, also support self builders as do Australia, USA and every country in the world – even i the Third World men are allowed to provide a shelter for their families!

These new laws state that all construction must go through a main building contractor, and an Assigned Certifier must also be employed – the cost of a building contractor along with the extra professional fees that are incurred under this law actually triples the budget that we had – this is most unjust.  The Minister and his department issue statements that self build can continue as before but unless the certificates within these Statutory Instruments are amended to include the words ‘self builder’ well then whatever the Minister ‘says’ does not change the Law of the Land – and that Law only makes a provision for a: Principal or director of a building company only. In fact, for my husband, a PAYE worker to sign these documents would be fraud.

The Law Society have also advised Assigned Certifiers not to undertake the role of certifier for self builders so this in effect renders self building impossible in Ireland today. This is going to damage to economy of Ireland – most especially in rural areas – as most one off houses in the country are self builds – these simply will not go ahead now – and this is serious. This will impact dramatically on builders merchants, window & door suppliers, local tradesmen etc..

I would like to point out that that self builders and building contractors do exactly the same thing – we both study the plans, we both purchase materials, we both employ tradesmen, we both listen to the architects – there is one difference however – the building contractor gains a hefty profit and puts a lot less love into the build!  There is ‘no school for builders’ – it is actually the tradesmen who are the ‘builders’ of our homes. So, therefore the Government are ‘forcing’ us to hire someone who does absolutely nothing different to what we do!  It is totally irrational, unjust and against our rights.

On behalf of the self builders,the farming community, the tradesmen, the architectural technologists, the draughts-men and all the citizens of Ireland that this unjust law affects we now implore the help of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties in our plight.  We are all feeling let down, rejected, hopeless and downtrodden by the very people who we elected to give us some hope of a brighter future.

We all were beginning to see the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ of this recession we are in but Minister Hogan has drastically changed this – he has blocked up the light with the most unjust laws – and we need your help to break through another opening in the tunnel so that we may see the light again.

We anxiously await your reply to this most serious matter.


Amanda Gallagher

Co Sligo


Extract from the Irish Council for Civil Liberties website. 


Who we are 
The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) is Ireland’s leading independent human rights watchdog, which monitors, educates and campaigns in order to secure full enjoyment of human rights for everyone.

The ICCL is an entirely independent organisation and does not rely on government support or funding.

Founded in 1976 by Mary Robinson and others, the ICCL has played a leading role in some of Ireland’s most successful human rights campaigns. These have included campaigns to establish an independent Garda Ombudsman Commission, legalise the right to divorce, secure more effective protection of children’s rights, decriminalise homosexuality and introduce enhanced equality legislation. Since 1976 the ICCL has tirelessly lobbied the State to ensure the full implementation in Ireland of international human rights standards.