Solicitor and community activist Dave Ellis played a fundamental role in the work of Community Law & Mediation between 1977 and 1998, and in the development of the community law movement in Ireland.
Having qualified as a solicitor in 1974, Dave worked for a community law centre in Harlesden, London, before returning to Dublin in 1977 to join Community Law & Mediation (then Coolock Community Law Centre) as the community law officer. Over the course of 20 years, he and his colleagues brought the law centre through many funding crises and campaigned on behalf of the community on issues such as family law – working with the victims of domestic violence – divorce, the position of lone parents, debt, employment, homelessness, housing, and access to social welfare. During this period, the law centre represented the families of the Stardust victims; and important test cases, such as McConnell vs the Eastern Health Board (1981) and The State (Hoolahan) vs Minister for Social Welfare (1986), set precedents for future cases. Dave also wrote reports on the operation of the social welfare appeals system and on civil legal aid. A committed community activist, Dave established strong links with the community in Coolock and was dedicated to achieving access to justice for all, including making the law and the legal system accessible through community education, Know Your Rights talks and information.
Dave’s commitment to social justice continues to inspire the work we do at Community Law & Mediation. We now help more than 3,000 annually through our range of services, which include free legal advice and representation; information and education; and mediation and conflict coaching. We continue to campaign for law reform, and for the safeguarding of rights already enshrined in law, in areas such as education, housing, disability rights, social protection, employment and equality.
For more information on Dave's contribution to the community law movement, view our 40 year anniverary film below: