Maintaining basic standards will steer Irish society through recession

5 July 2012

Today Minister for Justice Alan Shatter TD opens the Dáil debate on the Personal Insolvency Bill. Legal rights group FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres) which will be in Leinster House today also to present its work on access to justice to House members, has welcomed the beginning of debate on this legal milestone in personal debt law reform.

FLAC provides information and advice to the public and also campaigns for law reform. Its basic legal services are provided through its telephone information line and a network of volunteer legal advice centres. It campaigns for improved legal standards in social welfare, personal debt, civil legal aid and use of the law in the public interest. The organisation roots its work in human rights, seeking to promote legal reform that is progressive, fair and that advances social justice.

"Last year we directly helped more than 25,000 people around the country with their legal problems through the skills of our dedicated telephone team and our more than 700 volunteer solicitors and barristers," said FLAC Director General Noeline Blackwell. "We know that the law is a key tool for people to fully participate in society. From our day-to-day contact with people on the ground, we also know that many people are excluded from participating in society where laws or legal remedies either do not exist or are not properly implemented."

"Our message to legislators is that by respecting, protecting and enforcing basic standards of human rights, the state will ensure that Ireland will come through the recession with a healthier, more cohesive society that is in a better position to move on from austerity," concluded Ms Blackwell.

FLAC will be presenting to members and staff of the Oireachtas in the AV room at 11am.



Editors' notes:
1. FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres) is a human rights organisation which exists to promote equal justice for all. FLAC is an NGO that relies on a combination of statutory funding, contributions from the legal professions and donations from individuals and grant-making foundations to support its work. FLAC offers basic legal information through its telephone information line and free legal advice through its network of 80 volunteer evening advice centres. It also campaigns on a range of issues including personal debt, fairness in social welfare law, public interest law and civil legal aid.
2. At the invitation of Alan Farrell TD, the FLAC team which is presenting its work to the Oireachtas members and staff will be Director General Noeline Blackwell, Policy & Advocacy Officer Saoirse Brady, Executive Officer Emer Butler, Senior Solicitor Michael Farrell and Communications Officer Yvonne Woods. Larry Donnelly, Manager of the Public Interest Law Alliance, a project of FLAC, will give a round-up of the project's work to date.
3. Minister for Justice Alan Shatter TD launched FLAC's Annual Report for 2011on 18 June, available to download at
4. FLAC has prepared a briefing note on the background to the reform of personal debt and insolvency laws which is available at There will be a FLACsheet on the Personal Insolvency Bill available on the FLAC website shortly. This will offer information on the Bill for those concerned about its proposals.
5. FLAC has resources available on the issue of personal debt available at A conference microsite on Legislating for personal insolvency in Ireland: International developments and domestic issues (April 2012) is at