Your Home is Your Castle

Your Home is Your Castle

scream at turbine

 

A person needs to feel safe and secure, and happy, in their own home.

 

If a society cannot guarantee its citizens a peaceful and secure place to stay, that society will very quickly become dysfunctional. Citizens will react badly to a threat to the sanctity of their home. These reactions will include mental illness, intra family conflict, and vigilantism, to name but a few.

 

The idea of a home invasion is the terror of most. The idea of armed intruders invading your domestic sanctity is the stuff of nightmares and horror movies.

 

But when you think about it, is that not what a wind farm is doing? It is invading your home with its noise and flicker. The physical and psychological effects of the “whump-whump” of the blades, and the strobe effect of the sunlight, is invading your home and making it impossible for you to achieve the domestic sanctity that is a fundamental right of every citizen.

 

In Ireland the sanctity of the home has not only a social significance, it also has a political – historical significance. The colonial legacy of the absentee landlord being able to evict tenant farmers from their homes at will is still a festering sore in the Irish psyche. The fact that the banks have now taken the place of the absentee landlord means that the sore is still festering.

 

Article 40.5 of the Constitution of Ireland says:

“The dwelling of every citizen is inviolable and shall not be forcibly entered save in accordance with law.”

As I previously mentioned, this clause has a fundamental resonance, not only in the socio-legal sense, but also in the historical sense. In essence, the Constitution is saying “never again”.

 

And yet it is happening again. Families are being driven from their homes by wind farms. This is worse than the absentee landlord, as in this case the wind farm is not even your landlord, it is rather an unwelcome neighbour that is driving you off your property.

 

That word “inviolable” is important. It is not a word that you would often see in modern language, but in essence it means something that must never be broken, infringed or dishonoured. Surely what these wind farms are doing is breaking and dishonouring citizen’s dwellings.

 

The wind farms might point out the proviso, “save in accordance with law”, with that hoary old line: “We are not breaking the law. We obtained planning permission”.

 

However, in the landmark judgment of King v Attorney General [1981] 1 I.R. 253 (S.C.) Henchy J. held that the phrase “save in accordance with law” is to be interpreted “without stooping to methods which ignore the fundamental norms of the legal order postulated by the Constitution”.

 

In other words, even if the law is officially on your side, you cannot use the law to achieve effects which are clearly undermining the Constitution. The anguish and mental suffering that wind farms are causing citizens to experience clearly ignores the fundamental norms of our Constitution, especially when one considers that the property in question is also the family home.

 

Our Constitution is based on the sanctity of the family. The family is often described as the bedrock of society, and our Constitution recognises this and enshrines that principle. And yet the Government allows families to be destroyed by neighbouring wind farms. How can that be in accordance with the Constitution?

 

The inviolability of the family home is not only enshrined in our Constitution, but also in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Article 7 of the Charter says that everyone has the right to respect for his or her private and family life, home and communications.

 

In the case of Monika Kusionova v Smart CAPITAL ((2014) Case C-34/13 of the European Court of Justice) emphasised (in extremely strong language) how the loss of a family home places the family in a particularly vulnerable position. The Court held that the loss of a home is one of the most serious breaches of the rights to respect for the home and that any person who risks being the victim of such a breach should be able to have the proportionality of this measure reviewed. In other words, can the benefits of a wind farm (assuming that there are any) ever be justification for driving someone from their family home?

 

One does not need to be a genius to get the answer to that question.

 

And the fact that the government is not only allowing these home invasions, but are actually profiting from the proceedings?

 

Article 40.3 of the Constitution of Ireland says:

“3 1° The State guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate the personal rights of the citizen.

2° The State shall, in particular, by its laws protect as best it may from unjust attack and, in the case of injustice done, vindicate the life, person, good name, and property rights of every citizen.”

 

This Government is not only allowing a fundamental constitutional right to be taken from its citizens, it is doing that taking itself.

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