The proposals contained in the Housing and Planning and Development Bill will, if enacted, pose a serious threat to environmental democracy and citizens’ access to justice rights; and significantly restrict Irish environmental NGOs and lay litigants from challenging planning decisions in the courts.
Speaking before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality’s inquiry into Access to Justice, the CEO of Community Law & Mediation (CLM), Rose Wall, highlighted the importance of community law centres in providing access to justice for people living in disadvantaged communities. She recommended the following:
CLM's recent submission to the Department of Justice and Equality on the National Disability Inclusion Strategy (mid-term review) highlighted the fact that despite ratification of the UNCRPD, the law remains a remote and inaccessible concept for many, particularly those with intellectual disabilities. We recommended the following:
In our recent submission to the DEASP consultation on the Pathways to Work Strategy, we highlighted some of the barriers to entering the workforce that are experienced by our clients, who include older jobseekers, women, lone parents, people with disabilities, and other groups. We also provided recommendations as to how these might be addressed, including:
CLM made a submission to the Joint Oireachtas on Education and Skills in relation to the use of reduced timetables in schools, and were delighted to be invited to speak at the Committee meeting held on the 4th of July. We highlighted the damage reduced timetables cause as an informal method of school exclusion, a practice which operates outside of the formal school suspension system and the safeguards (such as the right to appeal) contained within that system. We also highlighted how the practice disproportionately affects vulnerable groups such as children with disabilities and members of the Travelling community, and how it contributes to the high rates of non-school completion among groups at a socio-economic disadvantage.
CLM welcomed the opportunity to make a submission to the Seanad Public Consultation Committee on Travellers, post ethnic recognition in Ireland on ‘Travellers Towards a more equitable Ireland post recognition.’ This submission relates to the theme of ‘Dialogue and Traveller Social Inclusion’ with a particular focus on Traveller accommodation, as our engagement with communities through our outreach clinics has highlighted to us the issues that Travellers experience in the area of accommodation and in particular, issues related to the Caravan Loan Scheme.
CLM welcomed the opportunity to make a submission to the Courts Service in relation to the consultation process on its Digitally-Enabled Long-Term Strategy. CLM took the opportunity to recommend that the Service is fully accessible to persons with intellectual disabilities in vindication of their rights, particularly in view of the increased obligations introduced by the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which comes into force on 19th April 2019.
CLM asks the Government how it intends to implement the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
CLM publishes its written Submission to the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection Make Work Pay for People with Disabilities Report 2017
The Law Reform Commission (LRC) is currently preparing its Fifth Programme for Law Reform and as part of that work, has invited submissions on possible projects in areas of law that may be in need of reform and modernisation. In September 2017, Community Law & Mediation made a submission to that process.
In September 2016, Equality Rights Alliance (ERA), in conjunction with SIPTU, the Independent Law Centres Network and the Employment Law Association of Ireland, hosted a roundtable discussion in Liberty Hall, Dublin called Building an Agenda for Change in the WRC. The aim of the roundtable was to discuss the operation of the WRC from an equality perspective and to generate a shared vision for the direction participants would like the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) to take in enforcing employment equality and equal status legislation. The roundtable focused on the visibility of equality in the work of the WRC, how accessible the WRC is to people taking equality cases and how cases are processed under the WRC. Jane O’Sullivan, solicitor and policy officer with Community Law & Mediation, addressed the roundtable on the accessibility of the WRC to people facing discrimination. As a representative of the Independent Law Centres Network, she explored access to justice issues in taking equality cases.
The Social Welfare Bill 2016, published on the 4th of November 2016, gives legislative effect to the social welfare measures announced in Budget 2017. It also deals with a number of other unrelated matters. FLAC and CLM’s joint submission addresses a number of relevant issues including the general manner in which social welfare bills are presented in the Houses of the Oireachtas as well as specific parts of the Bill itself.
Ireland’s commitment to the implementation of The UN Convention on the
Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) is due to
be examined in early 2017. As part of this process, the State submits a written
response to a list of issues identified by the CEDAW Committee, which is an
independent expert body within the United Nations. The National Women’s
Council of Ireland is drafting a Shadow Report for submission to the CEDAW
Committee and this is CLM’s submission to that Shadow Report. It has been
ten years since Ireland was last reviewed by this Committee. CLM, in its work
to improve access to justice over the last 41 years, works to tackle barriers to
justice and to highlight and challenge the disproportionate effect of unfair laws
and policies on certain groups in society, including women.
CLM has made a submission to an inter-departmental working group on fuller working lives. This submission on a roundtable held by CLM looks at the legal and policy considerations for older people in employment in Ireland and makes the case for introducing greater choice for individuals in their employment and retirement. It covers topics such as age discrimination in employment and the legal position on mandatory retirement and fixed term contracts after retirement. The report also provides a broad overview of the perception and experience of older workers in Irish society and looks at the benefits that gradual or phased retirement could bring. Women continue to be a particularly vulnerable group in the context of employment and retirement and the report looks at this persistent trend. Since the beginning of 2016, we have had a new forum in which older people whose employment and equality rights have been violated can go to – the Workplace Relations Commission. CLM looks at the new WRC in this context and comments on the impact of the lack of legal aid for employment and equality cases.
As members of the Human Rights Committee of the Law Society of Ireland, Community Law and Mediation were kindly invited by the Law Society of Ireland to make submissions to the emergency Dáil Committee on Housing and Homelessness. The views expressed in the briefing paper and the presentation made to the Dáil Committee on the 10th May 2016 are the views of Community Law and Mediation.