FLAC Conference: The EU Charter and the ECHR: Practice and Potential

18 October 2019

2019 is a special year for FLAC as the organisation marks its 50th anniversary. This October we also mark the 40th anniversary of one of the most important decisions on access to civil justice not only in Ireland but internationally, – in the landmark Airey judgment delivered in October 1979, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), in Strasbourg found Ireland in breach of Article 6 and 8 of the ECHR because of its failure to provide legal aid to Mrs Airey in her judicial separation proceedings before the Irish High Court. It is also 40 years since the establishment of the civil legal aid system in Ireland.  

Eilis Barry, Chief Executive of FLAC commented that;

“This October marks 40 years since the landmark Airey Judgement which led to the establishment of the civil legal aid system in Ireland. It must have taken enormous courage and resilience for Josey Airey to take on the might of the state and church at that time. The subsequent establishment of the Legal Aid Board was a major step forwards for access to justice, providing legal aid and advice to some of those most in need. However, there are still significant gaps and limitations in its current provision. FLAC is echoing the reiteration of the Chief Justice for better and deeper legal aid. We need an urgent root and branch review of the current civil legal aid system and a properly resourced system, so that it can provide legal aid in crucial areas like housing and discrimination.

"Access to justice also involves access to an effective remedy. It always had an important European dimension which has been enhanced by the provisions of the EU Charter on legal aid equality and right to an effective remedy.

As part of its celebrations to mark these milestones, FLAC will host a conference on The EU Charter and the ECHR on Friday 18 October 2019. This conference explores both the current practice and potential of the EU Charter and the ECHR with a particular focus on legal aid, equality, housing and the use of the Charter in domestic proceedings, all of which are areas that feature in FLAC’s casework in the public interest. The aim of this conference is to explore how best to utilise the EU Charter and ECHR to vindicate access to justice.

The conference brings together expert speakers with a broad range of perspectives, national and international, on key challenges and opportunities.

Eilis added, “We are delighted to be hosting a conference that will offer expert insight into the EU Charter and the ECHR and offer an opportunity for discussion to enhance the awareness and understanding of them. “