FLAC welcomes increase in legal aid funding as a step in the right direction - Budget 2022
13 October 2021
Speaking following the Budget announcement of an additional €3.3m to support the work of the State’s Legal Aid Board, including the provision of legal advice and legal aid service to victims of sexual offences, Eilis Barry, CE of the human rights charity FLAC said that this increase is a welcome step in the right direction but is only a drop in the ocean in terms of what is needed.
Eilis Barry said;
“FLAC has highlighted the lack of resources allocated to the State Legal Aid Board consistently since its establishment over 40 years ago following the Airey Judgement. It is more evident than ever that more must be done to allow citizens to vindicate their rights.
“While we are of course happy to see an increase in the Board’s resources - this will be only a drop in the ocean of what’s needed. FLAC are seeking a root and branch review of the current civil legal aid system and the additional €3.3million while welcome, will not allow for a transformed legal aid service.
“FLAC’s Telephone Information and Referral Line is inundated with callers in need of legal information and advice, at a time of great stress and often immense hardship. We hear from callers of their inability to meet the Legal Aid Board’s strict means test or the long wait times they experience.
A review of the system was announced at the beginning of 2021, however we are still awaiting details of this review, its scope and timeline, and we urge the Minister for Justice to prioritise this as a matter of necessity.
FLAC also welcomes the increase in Social Welfare and Housing Social Supports. The pandemic has exacerbated the inequalities and barriers to justice in our society. We particularly welcome the funding of €18 million allocated in 2022 for the delivery of Traveller accommodation. It is notable, that the majority of the queries received by FLAC’s Traveller Legal Service relate to the areas of accommodation
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 on 01 906 10 10.
Our phone line operates Monday to Friday from 9.30am-1pm. With an additional phone line information service on Monday evenings from 7-9pm for callers who cannot call during the morning.
FLAC provides legal advice directly to members of both the Roma Community and The Irish Traveller Community via specialist legal clinics. FLAC also campaigns on a range of issues including consumer credit, personal debt, and fairness in social welfare law, public interest law and civil legal aid.
- Justice Budget announcement available here http://justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/PR21000246
- Funding for the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme is increased by €168 million in 2022 to provide for 14,000 new HAP tenancies (bringing the total number of tenancies supported to 66,000).
- Funding of €133 million for the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) will support a further 800 households in 2022, along with the ongoing cost of supporting 17,000 households already in the scheme.
- FLAC Traveller Legal Service – Review of its first year blog post https://www.flac.ie/blog/flacs-traveller-legal-service-a-review-for-traveller-pride-w/
FLAC is an independent NGO which for over fifty years has been working to promote equal access to justice in Ireland.