43 NGOs and advocates join FLAC’s call on Justice Minister to ensure Ireland’s vulnerable and marginalised individuals, families and communities can access Civil Legal Aid

29 July 2021

civil legal aid asks (1)

Update: 44 NGOs and advocates join FLAC’s call on Justice Minister to ensure Ireland’s vulnerable and marginalised individuals, families and communities can access Civil Legal Aid

*Ballymun Community Law Centre was ommitted from original statement*

In a letter delivered to government today, 29-07-2021, 45 signatories have called on the Minister for Justice to ensure that the forthcoming review of the civil legal aid scheme will be a root and branch review, to address the issue of unmet legal need in Ireland. The broad range of NGOs, charities, non-profits, advocates and a union working in Ireland directly with vulnerable and marginalised individuals, families and communities have come together to seek a commitment that the upcoming review of the civil legal aid system is comprehensive, meaningful, transparent, inclusive and participatory, incorporating the voices of citizens and stakeholders with first-hand experience of civil legal aid in Ireland.

Eilis Barry, CE of FLAC said,

“The organisations and individuals who have signed this letter provide legal expertise, information, support and advocacy to a broad range of communities, families and individuals. Collectively, we work with migrants, Travellers, members of the Roma community, deaf people, lone parents, disabled people, victims and survivors of domestic violence, unemployed people, the working poor and more. Our request is based on the experience of meeting the needs of the people we work with, people who are often excluded from society, without the means to vindicate their rights.”

The letter to the Minister outlines our four main asks in relation to the review of the civil legal aid system planned for Q3 of 2021 by the Dept of Justice. The signatories believe that the review must;

  • Be a root and branch review that is comprehensive in scope and map unmet legal need. It must explore the functions of the Legal Aid Board, including functions such as the provision of information, advocacy, education and research; the eligibility criteria for legal aid, including the means test, and financial contributions, the areas of law covered – discrimination, domestic violence, housing, sexual harassment; and the methods of service delivery, such as community law centres, targeted/specialised legal services for disadvantaged groups and individuals.
  • Be an independent review chaired by a person of status, such as a judge with an interest in access to justice, such as the original Pringle Committee.
  • Have at its centre the voices of those who experience unmet legal need and involve key stakeholders, including external groups and NGOS who provide legal and other services to people in poverty and disadvantage. Such as FLAC, and members of the Independent Law Centres Network(ILCN), the Legal Aid Board; statutory bodies such as IHREC, the Citizens Information Board and the National Disability Authority; relevant NGOs, academics and people who are familiar with the needs of lay litigants and representatives of the profession.
  • Measure the civil legal aid system against international standards and compliance with the State’s obligations under national and international human rights law.

According to Ms. Barry of FLAC,

”If the proposed review is to be meaningful, it must incorporate all of these elements. The planned review is a golden opportunity to create a civil legal aid system that is fair and fit for purpose, one that enables access to justice for those that may need it most but have no means to achieve it.”



  1. Eilis Barry, CE, FLAC
  2. Orla O’Connor, CEO, National Women’s Council of Ireland
  3. Tanya Ward, CE, Children’s Rights Alliance
  4. Karen Kiernan, CE, One Family 
  5. Bernard Joyce, Director, Irish Traveller Movement
  6. Lorraine Dempsey, CEO, Inclusion Ireland
  7. Andy Heffernan, National Secretary, SVP
  8. Maria Joyce, Co-Ordinator, National Traveller Women’s Forum 
  9. Brendan Ogle, Senior Officer, Unite Trade Union 
  10. Liam Herrick, CE, ICCL
  11. Paula Fagan, CEO, LGBT Ireland
  12. Sarah Benson, CEO, Women’s Aid
  13. Orla Grehan, Irish Deaf Society
  14. Joan Carthy, National Advocacy Manager, Irish Wheelchair Association
  15. Catherine Cosgrave, Managing Solicitor, Immigrant Council of Ireland
  16. Shane O’Curry, Director, ENAR
  17. Nick Henderson, CEO, Irish Refugee Council
  18. Damien Walsh, CEO, Independent Living Movement Ireland
  19. David Byrne , Advocacy and Policy Worker, Cope Galway
  20. Fiona Finn, CEO, NASC Ireland 
  21. Marissa Ryan CE, EPIC 
  22. INOU 
  23. Deirdre Kenny, Director of Advocacy/Deputy CEO, One in Four
  24. Suzanne Connolly, CEO, Barnardos 
  25. Mike Allen, Director of Advocacy, Focus Ireland 
  26. Ian Power, CEO, Spun Out
  27. Martin Collins, Co-Director, Pavee Point 
  28. Jules McDonagh, Resource and Information Officer, Exchange House
  29. Moninne Griffith, CEO, BelongTo 
  30. June Tinsley, National Advocacy Manager, NCBI 
  31. Barry Sheridan, CEO, Down Syndrome Ireland
  32. Nem Kearns, Board Secretary, Disabled Women Ireland 
  33. Kieran Loughran, CE, Headway Ireland (Brain Injury Services) 
  34. Wendy Lyon, Solicitor, Abbey Law 
  35. Mary-Louise Lynch, Director, SISI 
  36. Louise Bayliss, Spokesperson, SPARK 
  37. Lucky Khambule, Coordinator, MASI
  38. Gaibhin McGranaghan, Policy Officer, ASIAM 
  39. Nancy Power, Joint Co-Ordinator, National Traveller MABS 
  40. Edel McGinley, Director, MRCI 
  41. Shana Cohen, Director, TASC 
  42. Rose Wall, CEO, Community Law & Mediation 
  43. Aoife Kelly Desmond, Managing Solicitor, Mercy Law
  44. Fleachta Phelan, Senior Policy Advocate, Disability Federation of Ireland
  45. Gary Lee, Managing Solicitor, Ballymun Community Law Centre

The letter can be viewed at

If you would like to sign up to the campaign please visit 

Updated Signatures Post Launch

  • Dr. Samantha Morgan Williams, Traveller Equality and Justice Project, UCC
  • Fiona Donson, UCC
  • Rose Marie Maughan, ITM
  • Marc Willers QC, Garden Court Chambers
  • Kathrina Bentley, CEO, Men's Aid Ireland
  • Moira Jenkins, Munster Technological University
  • Jeanne McDonagh, CEO, The Open Doors Initiative
  • Miriam Wilson , Solicitor, M T Wilson Solicitors
  • Dr Sindy Joyce, University of Limerick
  • Gavin Elliott, Legal Officer, Threshold
  • Dr Liam Thornton, School of Law, University College Dublin
  • Dr Charles O’Sullivan, School of Law, Ulster University
  • Michael Farrell, Solicitor, Former FLAC Solicitor