First dedicated legal service for Travellers launched

First dedicated legal service for Travellers launched
The new service aims to help Travellers better engage with legal services. File Picture.

Ireland's first dedicated legal service for Travellers and has been launched by FLAC, the free legal advice centres.

The service will be supported by the Community Foundation for Ireland (CFI) and will work in cooperation with a ‘steering group’ made up of representatives from the national Traveller organisations.

The aim is to empower Travellers to engage with the law as a means of combating discrimination and advancing the rights of Travellers in Irish society. 

Travellers experience poor life outcomes across a range of indicators, including high levels of discrimination.

CFI had been working with the steering group on the establishment of a dedicated legal service for Travellers. 

FLAC worked with the steering group on the design of the service and CFI has agreed to fund this initiative which comprises a full-time solicitor, Christopher McCann, for three years. Referrals to the service will come through national and local Traveller organisations.

National Traveller Women’s Forum co-ordinator Maria Joyce welcomed the development.

“The legal system plays a key role in the promotion and protection of equality and human rights for all,” said Ms Joyce.

However, given the levels of racism, discrimination, and inequality experienced by Travellers, full enjoyment of these rights often require that they are enforced and clarified by the courts to ensure they are effective. 

"I welcome the development of this service which we hope will lead to increased access to legal justice for Travellers."

Eilis Barry, FLAC chief executive, said the organisation is "delighted to work with the steering group on the establishment of this much needed dedicated legal service for the Traveller community". 

"The project recognises that the law can be a tool to protect and enforce rights, access to justice should result in better life outcomes in terms of accommodation, and better educational and health outcomes,” said Ms Barry.

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