\For over 40 years, FLAC has been involved in a range of campaigns. Its primary campaign concern is its original goal, the establishment of a concrete and functioning civil legal aid system in Ireland. (Read more about the history of FLAC's legal aid campaign.)
However, FLAC has focused on issues ranging from social welfare rights, immigrant rights and employment law through credit and consumer law, public interest law and human rights law. FLAC's work has made a difference in communities: from informing individuals about their rights to reforming legislation to campaigning for improved state policy. You can also view a short film by Atlantic Philanthropies, which funds FLAC, about our work and principles.
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Currently FLAC is running the following campaigns:
- 21st century law needed for 21st century over-indebtedness!
Ireland has a 21st century consumer credit market with a 19th century debt enforcement system. FLAC is working to ensure that these laws are reformed, in order to provide consumers and their dependants with a dignified and effective way of dealing with debt that will be fair to the consumer, the creditor and the taxpayer alike.
- Time to reform social welfare appeals
In October FLAC launched a report that recommends comprehensive reform of Ireland's system of processing appeals on refusals of social welfare applications. Entitled Not Fair Enough, the report is a legal analysis of how the appeals system meets basic human rights standards on issues like fairness, transparency and access to justice. It also presents findings from a survey of advocates who help people to make appeals on payments, which indicates systemic change is needed.
- Tri-City Project on Special Non-Contributory Benefits for EU Migrants
FLAC has partnered with the AIRE Centre in London, and Lize Glass, legal consultant and former AIRE intern, in Amsterdam, in an EU Commission-funded Tri-City project on EU migrants' access to special non-contributory benefits. The overall aim of this project is to improve the information that EU migrants in Amsterdam, Dublin and London have about their right to access special non-contributory benefits.
- Consumer credit - time to better protect consumer interests!
FLAC is campaigning to protect consumers from the worst excesses of the market by ensuring that the provision of credit is responsible, transparent and affordable. Comprehensive state-funded systems of money advice and civil legal aid are also needed to back up these protections.
- Time to legislate for transgender recognition in Ireland
Ireland is now the only country in Europe where transgender people are not recognised in law. Following a long legal battle with the state, in 2007 FLAC client Lydia Foy won a groundbreaking victory for transgender rights in Ireland. Her case was also the first to feature a declaration of incompatibility with the European Convention on Human Rights. Although it was appealed by the government, in 2010 this was dropped. Following a general election in early 2011 which saw transgender recognition finally written into the Programme for Government, it seemed as if a law was finally coming. A report in July 2011 seemed to indicate that work was almost complete on legislation. However, October 2012 marks the fifth anniversary of that historic victory for Lydia Foy and the transgender comunity in Ireland. There is still no sign of the promised law.
- Direct Provision campaign
Direct provision is a scheme whereby asylum seekers and people seeking other forms of protection are provided with accommodation on a full board basis with all their basic needs apparently provided for directly. Direct provision residents receive a weekly payment of €19.10 for an adult and €9.60 for a child. In November 1999 direct provision and dispersal was introduced as a pilot scheme to alleviate a housing shortage in the Eastern Health Board area. In April 2000 it was implemented as a national scheme and ten years later it remains in place. FLAC has opposed the direct provision and dispersal scheme since its inception.
- Campaign for fairness in social welfare decisions on HRC
Growing from an earlier campaign, FLAC has been working to clarify how social welfare law is applied. We had become concerned that entire groups were being excluded from qualifying for payments. A number of positive decisions have made the situation clearer, such as around the Habitual Residence Condition, however FLAC will continue to monitor the way in which the law in the area is applied.
- Legal Aid Campaign
FLAC campaigns for a comprehensive civil legal aid service. Civil legal aid is different from criminal legal aid, which is available to all those who meet certain criteria. In Ireland, state civil legal aid is provided through the Legal Aid Board. FLAC has provided information and advice to those in need since 1969.