Strong demand for free community-based legal services in Limerick

By Elizabeth Devine, Wednesday, 30th October 2019 | 0 comments

Housing, social welfare and family issues drove strong demand for Community Law & Mediation’s services in Limerick last year.

Community Law & Mediation (CLM), which publishes its 2018 Annual Report today, assisted more than 3,000 people across the country through its free community-based legal, mediation and education services last year. Its Limerick law centre, which is the only independent law centre outside of Dublin, assisted more than 630 people in the communities identified for regeneration, and residents of other disadvantaged areas of Limerick city.

Rose Wall, CEO of CLM commented: “As a community-based law centre, we see a range of issues coming through our services and in most cases, the individuals and families involved have nowhere else to go for assistance. Our law centre in Limerick is unique in that it is the only independent law centre outside of Dublin, and it responds directly to the needs of the people of Limerick. We recently appointed a new Manager, Sinead Kerin, who brings with her a wealth of knowledge and experience in social welfare and housing law, having previously worked with the Mercy Law Resource Centre and Focus Ireland in Limerick.

Last year, we brought a series of successful public interest cases in relation to difficulties accessing social housing; refusal of emergency accommodation; problems accessing social welfare payments; and discrimination in the workplace. In one instance, we assisted a couple who had been informed that they were no longer entitled to emergency accommodation as they had refused an offer of separate hostel placements. The woman was heavily pregnant at the time and needed the support of her partner and so the offer of separate hostel placements was entirely unsuitable. We advocated on behalf of the couple and following extensive legal representations, the local authority agreed to reassess the couple’s housing needs.

CLM is clearly meeting a gap by facilitating access to justice for all, particularly those from more disadvantaged communities.”

In addition to its services, CLM campaigned 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 last year. The organisation also holds a series of Know Your Rights talks on legal matters such as Enduring Power of Attorney, Wills, the Fair Deal Scheme, family law and how to apply for social housing and these are open to all to attend. The report can be read in full here.

ENDS

For further information please contact Elizabeth Devine, Communications Manager, CLM.

Tel: 01 847 7804 Mobile: 087 6404 704

Note to Editors

Community Law & Mediation (CLM) was established in 1975 as the first independent, community-based law centre in Ireland.

Today, CLM supports more than 3,000 people annually through its range of services, which include free legal advice and representation; information and education; and mediation and conflict coaching. It operates two Community Law Centres, CLM Limerick and CLM Northside, and partners with other organisations to provide outreach advice clinics around Ireland.

Other statistics in relation to CLM’s services in 2018:

  • CLM held more than 180 legal advice clinics last year. The organisation also collaborated with Novas Limerick, the Citizens Information Board and MABS to provide outreach legal advice clinics around the country. As part of a new collaboration with the National Women’s Council of Ireland, we will provide monthly employment law advice clinics for women, commencing on 31st October 2019.
  • We observed a significant increase in demand for our mediation service last year, reflecting a growing demand for mediation as an alternative approach to resolving disputes and one that enables people to reach an agreement outside of the courtroom. The majority of mediation cases involved parental/wider family issues, followed by community/neighbour and workplace mediation cases.
  • We published two information guides last year – a comprehensive guide to social housing for advocates and individuals/families who are on the social housing list or seeking to apply for social housing; and an information leaflet on homelessness.
  • We also ran an education and training programme, which included Know Your Rights talks on areas such as Enduring Power of Attorney, Wills, the Fair Deal Scheme, family law and how to apply for social housing. An online Housing Law and Policy course, in partnership with the University of Limerick, ran from September to December and was accessible to people all around the country.
  • CLM has a panel of 66 experienced and dedicated volunteer barristers, solicitors and mediators. Our volunteer mediators delivered 1,360 hours of free mediation services last year.
  • We continued to update Casebase – the only publicly accessible database of reports of decisions of the Social Welfare Appeals Office. The aim of the database is to provide greater clarity around the reasons for decisions on cases and to assist members of the public and advocacy organisations with their preparations for similar cases.
  • CLM also campaigned 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. We hosted three roundtable discussions on the Caravan Loan Scheme, mental health and the social welfare system and the practice of reduced timetables in schools.

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