Flac to launch only dedicated Traveller Legal Service in the State.
27 July 2020
On Monday July 27th at 12.30 Flac will officially launch Ireland’s only dedicated Traveller Legal Service. Supported by The Community Foundation for Ireland and in cooperation with a Steering Group made up of representation from the national Traveller organisations, it aims to empower Travellers and Traveller groups to engage with the law as a means of combating discrimination and advancing the rights of Travellers in Irish Society.
Travellers experience poor life outcomes across a range of indicators and experience one of the highest levels of discrimination in Irish society.
CFI had been working with a steering group made up of Traveller organisations on the establishment of a dedicated legal Traveller service. FLAC worked with the Traveller Steering Group on the design of the service and The Community Foundation for Ireland has agreed to fund this initiative which comprises a full-time solicitor, Christopher McCann for three years. Referrals to the Service will come through national and local Traveller organisations.
Maria Joyce, National Traveller Women’s Forum Co-ordinator stated,
“The legal system plays a key role in the promotion and protection of equality and human rights for all. However, given the levels of racism, discrimination and inequality experienced by Travellers full enjoyment of these rights often requires that they are enforced and clarified by the Courts to ensure they are effective. I welcome the development of this service which we hope will lead to increased access to legal Justice for Travellers.
Eilis Barry, FLAC CE stated
‘'FLAC is delighted to work with the Steering group on the establishment of this much needed dedicated legal service for the Traveller Community. The project recognises that the law can be a tool to protect and enforce rights, access to justice should result in better life outcomes in terms of accommodation, and better educational and health outcomes.
“It is anticipated that the major issues that the service will deal with will be about access to housing, access to emergency housing and discrimination claims. With limited resources available, there will be an emphasis on taking cases that will have impact - e.g. Failure of local authorities to draw down funding for accommodation and implement Traveller Accommodation programmes, access to emergency accommodation. There is good protective legislation there and we will be trying to enforce that. However legislation can also be used oppressively to deny rights and the legislation on evictions and criminal trespass will also be a focus of the service.”
Martin Collins from Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre said,
“The legal system is an essential part of an overall strategy in the promotion and protection of a Travellers equality and human rights”
The project will have an educational and advocacy role as well, with solicitor Christopher McCann preparing educational materials for the Traveller groups and advocating with the legal aid board to provide representation to Travellers.
‘Flac are very grateful to the Community Foundation of Ireland for their support for this initiative. The long-term aim of the project is to persuade the State to provide such a service. The Legal Aid Board need to be resourced so it can take on housing and discrimination claims.’ - Eilis Barry, CE, FLAC.
Notes to Editor
- FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres) is an Irish human rights organisation, which exists to promote equal access to justice. As an NGO, FLAC 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 (1890 350 250). Free legal advice is available from volunteer lawyers through a countrywide network of advice clinics (these clinics are currently conducted over the phone) – more at www.flac.ie/help/. FLAC provides legal representation in a small number of cases in the public interest. FLAC provides legal advice directly to members of both the Roma Community and The Irish Traveller Community via specialist legal clinics. FLAC engages in policy work in areas of law that most impact on disadvantaged groups and including consumer credit, personal debt, and fairness in social welfare law, public interest law and civil legal aid. It operates the public interest law project PILA.
- Here is the link to the Press Notice for the launch of the dedicated Traveller Service - https://www.flac.ie/news/2020/07/22/date-for-your-diary-online-launch-of-flacs-new-ded/