Healthcare and Housing in Ireland and the EU – Event Summary


On 8 November 2023, as part of the EUact2 project, European Movement Ireland and the University of Galway hosted an in person debate titled ‘Healthcare and Housing in Ireland and the EU’. The opening remarks were offered by Dean Kenny, President of the Student Union at the University of Galway, Gabrielle Leleu, engagement Officer of European Movement Ireland, Professor Padraic Kenna, Dr Charles O’Mahony. The panel was attended by 16 people, the majority of whom (62.5%) were women.

Dean Kenny, President of the Student Union at the University of Galway, opened the event by highlighting the main themes of the debate as being housing and healthcare but also noting that another major topic which has come to the fore is misinformation. He continued by emphasising the importance of projects such as EUact2 as an EU programme, which facilitate exchanges with experts, allowing participants to “cut through” misinformation narratives.

Gabrielle Leleu, Engagement Officer of European Movement Ireland, introduced the EUact2 project to the audience.

In his initial remarks, Professor Padraic Kenna highlighted the EU’s limited competence in housing policy. He outlined the ECB’s often impactful role in areas such as mortgage interest rates, as well as the single supervisory mechanism. Professor maintained that the concept of freedom of movement is underpinned by the principle of “no discrimination”. This has formed the legal basis for the development of more complex and overlapping regulation areas such as gender, consumer protection, public procurement, consumer products.  

Dr Charles O’Mahony shared more about his academic research in the area of comparative disability law. He highlighted that the EU’s accession to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was the most important moment in EU disability policy, and stated that health crises are the main drivers of change in health policy which also has often been viewed as a mechanism for market creation. Dr Charles O’Mahony explained that legislation around healthcare is often ambiguous, the EU plays a positive role in this area, however he mentioned that there is still no current momentum for an integrated European health system.  

The panel followed by a Q&A session moderated by Head of Strategy at EM Ireland, Rory Harte. The audience reacted to the ideas and narratives mentioned prior by the speakers and was interested to dive deeper into the area of housing policy in Ireland and across Europe.