Advocating for Change: CLM makes Review of Civil Legal Aid Scheme submission today

*Signatories of CLM’s review of the Civil Legal Aid Scheme submission

Today, Community Law & Mediation and 18 social justice and advocacy organisations submitted their recommendations for reform of the outdated Civil Legal Aid Scheme.  

We are calling for substantial reforms ensure the most vulnerable and marginalised in our society can vindicate their rights and challenge discrimination in areas that are critical to social inclusion but currently excluded from the Scheme, such as employment, equality, housing and social welfare. 

What is Civil Legal Aid? 

Civil legal aid means representation by a barrister or solicitor in civil proceedings in court or before the International Protection Appeals Tribunal, in addition to the preparatory work this entails. 

Why have we made a submission on the review of the civil legal aid scheme? 

CLM’s history is closely interlinked with the movement for civil legal aid in Ireland. Previously Coolock Community Law Centre, CLM was established in Coolock in 1975 as the first independent, community-based law centre in Ireland. It was modelled on the American neighbourhood law centre (now known in Ireland as the community law centre model) and its purpose initially was to serve as a prototype law centre and campaign tool in the movement for civil legal aid.  

This model has a number of important characteristics. Services are free of charge, making them as accessible as possible; community education – creating an awareness of rights and the law – is a critical part of the work; and a focus on law reform ensures that the issues being raised in our services inform and influence change in policy and legislation.  

The Pringle Report to Government in 1977 recommended a similarly expanded system of civil legal aid, including public information and education services on legal rights as well as representation for all types of civil proceedings.  

Despite the fact that the Civil Legal Aid Scheme (“the Scheme”), introduced in 1979, saw the establishment of a different and more limited model under the Legal Aid Board, CLM has continued to grow and expand its services, working to remove barriers to the law on the basis that all people should be able to access basic legal information and advice regardless of their income and background. It continues to work to identify and unlock the legalities, regulations, policies, and procedures that manifest as barriers and obstacles to a fair and better life for all individuals in the community. 

What are our key recommendations for the review of the Civil Legal Aid Scheme? 

CLM are calling for reforms to ensure the most vulnerable and marginalised in our society can vindicate their rights and challenge discrimination in areas that are critical to social inclusion but currently excluded from the Scheme, such as employment, equality, housing and social welfare. 

Our key recommendations include:  

  • Changes to the eligibility thresholds to qualify for legal aid and advice, and changes to the allowances against income to reflect the reality of the cost of living. 
  • Expansion of the Civil Legal Aid Scheme to areas of law which are currently excluded such as: employment and equality matters, housing-related matters, environmental matters, social welfare appeals and children’s rights. 
  • Restructuring of the Scheme in line with the community law centre model to include public information and education services – creating an awareness of rights and the law – and a policy and law reform function. 

Read our review of the Civil Legal Aid Scheme submission: 

February Free Legal Advice Clinics: Limerick

Community Law and Mediation Limerick is an independent law and mediation centre which provides free legal information, advice, advocacy and representation in the following areas of law:

  • Housing Issues
  • Social Welfare
  • Debt
  • Consumer Issues
  • Employment
  • Family Law (advice only)  
  • Access to Education
  • Equality
  • Homelessness
  • Environmental Justice
PlaceDateTime
Our Lady of Lourdes Community Centre Ballinacurra WestonWeds 8th February (Please note change of day)10.30am – 12.30pm
Southill HUB Community CentreWeds 15th February10.30am – 12.30pm
Moyross Community CentreTues 21st February10.30am – 12.30pm
St Mary’s Alms House Nicholas St LimerickTues 28th  February10.30am – 12.30pm

The service is free and available to people living in the regeneration areas & to residents of other disadvantaged areas within Limerick City. To book, you can contact us on the information below.

Phone clinics are also available.

Ph: 061 536 100

E: limerick@communitylawandmediation.ie

Community Law & Mediation work with Environmental Justice Network Ireland to launch a new Manual of Environmental Justice

Community Law & Mediation has partnered with the Environmental Justice Network Ireland to establish the Manual of Environmental Justice, as research shows that 78% of academics, activists, NGOs and broader civil society groups cite ‘lack of accessibility to expertise and/or information’ as a main obstacle to carrying out their work.

The Manual of Environmental Justice is a digital toolkit which aims to resource and connect organisations and communities across the island of Ireland on intersectional environmental issues. It is free to use and provides an expert directory for people working in environmental and social justice, an advocacy map which shows locations of environmental and social groups across Ireland and a resources hub which contains a range of expert and journalistic articles, blogs, podcasts and videos.

Clodagh Daly, CLM’s Centre of Environmental Justice Manager, said: “Community Law & Mediation is delighted to be launching the Manual of Environmental Justice with Environmental Justice Network Ireland. The Manual is a one-stop informational toolkit which allows anyone to easily access environmental justice resources, connect with environmental organisations and grassroots groups, and contact environmental experts. We hope this toolkit will enable more people, communities, and organisations to become engaged and empowered on environmental justice matters. We have worked for the past year on developing the Manual of Environmental Justice and want to give Community Foundation Ireland special recognition for funding this project.”

Ciara Brennan, Director and Academic Lead at the EJNI, said: ““Environmental Justice Network Ireland are delighted to be collaborating with Community Law & Mediation on the new Manual of Environmental Justice digital toolkit. Our needs assessment consultation identified a clear requirement for a hub of information on environmental justice to benefit people living across the island of Ireland. The Manual of Environmental Justice has the potential to play a pivotal role in providing essential information to citizens and community organisations engaged in environmental and social justice campaigning, research and advocacy to help confront and overcome shared environmental challenges.”

The Manual of Environmental Justice was launched last week by a joint event with Community Law & Mediation and Environmental Justice Network Ireland. Guest speakers included Niamh Guiry, climate activist and member of Not Here Not Anywhere; and Cormac McAleer, member of Save our Sperrins. Watch the launch event below.

Click here to use the Manual of Environmental Justice: https://envjusticemanual.com/

Watch our launch event: Environmental Justice Campaigning Across the Island of Ireland


CLM Housing Law / Prevention of Homelessness Training Course

This training course will examine the law relating to homelessness in Ireland – what is the State’s obligations to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

This course will look at social housing supports, the application process, and the scheme of allocations. It will explain tenancy rights, evictions, what constitutes an unlawful eviction, and how this can be challenged.

The main outcomes will be:

  • The prevention of homelessness for individuals and families who are at risk of losing their home.
  • Empowerment of individuals to advocate on their own behalf in respect of their housing and tenancy rights.
  • Up-skill other advocacy services and organisations in housing and tenancy rights.

Location
This course is a one-day course split over two half days on Zoom.

Cost

€200

Dates

  • Tuesday 7th Feb from 10am to 1pm
  • Friday 10th Feb from 10am to 1pm

For an application form click here or fill in the booking form below.

For more information please email education. 

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