Blog, 21st Dec 2012

Christmas Gathering at Mercy Law Resource Centre

on Friday, 14th December 2012

MLRC were delighted to invite friends, volunteers, funders, organisations and agencies working in partnership with Mercy Law Resource Centre to our Christmas Gathering on the 14th December 2012.  Staff and Board members were on hand to welcome and inform all who attended about the work of MLRC over the course of 2012.

The venue was the Wisdom Centre at Sophia Housing, Cork Street, Dublin 8 and we would like to take this opportunity to thank Máire Nally and all the staff of Sophia for the support and hard work in helping us with this event.  Also a big thank you to Chef Trevor and his staff for the sumptuous food and beverages supplied on the night.

Helena O’Donoghue, chairperson of the Board of MLRC outlined the work of the Law Centre and launched a new fundraising initiative ‘Friends of MLRC’.  Click here to read more about how you could become a friend of MLRC.

Helena on behalf of Mercy Law Resource Centre thanked all who have worked in partnership with MLRC, funded our service and supported us in any way throughout the year.  MLRC are pleased that the work we do has positively affected the lives of some of the most marginalised in our society.  Click here to see MLRC’s presentation on the night.

Click here to see some photographs taken on the night.

We wish you all a Happy Christmas and Best Wishes for 2013.

If you would like more information on the work of Mercy Law Resource Centre please see our website at www.mercylaw.ie.

Disclaimer

All information provided on this Blog is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or a legal contract between this Blog and any person or entity unless otherwise specified.   Click here to read more.

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Blog, 14th Dec 2012

EMPLOYMENT APPEALS TRIBUNAL

                                                                                CASE NO. UD 1165/2011

CATHERINE MANGAN (CLAIMANT)

V

CLONTARF CRECHE LIMITED (RESPONDENTS)

                                                Unfair Dismissals Acts, 1977 – 2007 

This was a case in which Mercy Law Resource Centre acted for the claimant Catherine Mangan, when she was referred with her Employment Law case concerning her dismissal from Clontarf Creche Limited on the 25th November 2010.  The case was heard in the Employment Appeals Tribunal on the 4th October 2012.

Ms. Mangan had been employed as a childcare worker by the Respondents in the crèche located at the GAA Club in Clontarf.  She had been employed by the crèche since 2005 and worked in various class rooms with many children over the years, for example the playschool and after school area.

Ms. Mangan was dismissed for gross misconduct on the 25th November 2010 in relation to an incident that occurred in the crèche on the 23rd November 2010.  Ms. Mangan and two other workers were monitoring a group of approximately 17, 7-9 year olds after school children on the Astroturf pitch behind the crèche.  The next day, the father of one of the children reported that his son had been held down by two older boys who had pushed a sock into his mouth.  Ms. Mangan and the two other workers present on the day did not witness the incident.

The respondents contended that the incident would have occurred between 3.50 p.m. – 4.30 p.m. as groups had 30 – 40 minute slots to play on the Astroturf pitch.  During cross examination, the then Assistant Manager admitted that the claimant should not have been left alone to supervise the children when the other two staff members took their tea breaks at this time.

The Manager of the crèche gave evidence that the child’s father wanted an investigation of the matter and she called a meeting with the three staff members at 1.30 p.m. on the 25th November 2010.  At that meeting, the claimant, the two other staff members and the three partners of the crèche (to include the Manager) met and the claimant said that she may have been on a break at the time of the incident or else she did not see it happen.  The other two staff members did not see the incident either.  One of the employees offered her resignation that day which was accepted by the crèche.

There was a further meeting later that day with the three staff members where it was noted that one of them had offered her resignation.  The claimant and another staff member had nothing further to say at this meeting.  The Manager of the crèche advised them at this meeting that she along with the other partners of the firm had decided that the incident had amounted to gross misconduct and the claimant and the other staff member were immediately dismissed.

During cross – examination the Manager admitted that the boy’s father was putting her under pressure and she also accepted that the claimant was on a break for 15 of the 40 minutes that the children were playing outside.  She considered that on the day of the incident crèche procedures had not been followed and that the child had been put at risk unnecessarily which she considered gross misconduct.  It was noted that the Manager did not inform the claimant that the meeting was disciplinary in nature or that her job was at risk.  Nor did she inform her that she could bring a representative to the meeting with her or that the claimant could appeal the dismissal. The Manager said that she dismissed the claimant for bringing the crèche into disrepute and considered that the child’s life had been in danger which had over-ruled the company disciplinary policies.

Having heard the evidence of the Claimant and considered all the evidence, the Tribunal reverted with their written determination on the 22nd October 2012.  They found that the dismissal was procedurally unfair and lacked proportionality.  They found that the claim under the Unfair Dismissals Acts, 1977 to 2007, succeeded and awarded the Claimant compensation, equivalent to a year’s pay.

Mercy Law Resource Centre supported Ms. Mangan’s case because as a result of the dismissal Ms. Mangan was unemployed, unable to pay her bills/ rent and was at risk of becoming homeless.    Everyone is entitled to a fair hearing but Ms Mangan was not afforded this by her employers and was dismissed from her job with immediate effect leaving her in the unenviable position of trying to source work in the area of childcare but knowing that her dismissal could affect her future employment prospects.  Following the dismissal, Ms. Mangan has not worked in the area of childcare since and is now a full time student, studying in the area of social care.

More information on the work of MLRC is available on our website at www.mercylaw.ie.

Disclaimer

All information provided on this Blog is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or a legal contract between this Blog and any person or entity unless otherwise specified.   Click here to read more.

Blog, 7th Dec 2012

Brian Barry, PhD Candidate, Trinity College Dublin and Trainee Solicitor with Mason Hayes & Curran worked with MLRC as an intern for a period of 3 months this year.  Brian became an integral part of our small team and he experienced first hand the issues Mercy Law Resource Centre encounters on a daily basis with the most marginalised in our society.  We wish to thank Brian and acknowledge the contribution he made to our team.  We also acknowledge the generosity of MHC both in terms of their financial support of the Centre and the provision of much needed key staff.

Brian stated the following in an article he wrote in the latest edition of the Irish Review of Community Economic Development Law and Policy,  “Although the essence of the problem of homelessness is simple – where a household does not have a place to call home – the legal framework is complex. The rights and entitlements of households conflict with the limited resources available.”

MLRC are pleased to see this article published which highlights the work of the Mercy Law Resource Centre, and we congratulate Brian on its publication.

NCLC-E-Journal-Issue-4-Volume-1-Brian Barry Article.  It is republished here with the kind permission of the Editors of The Irish Review of Community Economic Development Law and Policy, an online journal published four times a year by the Northside Community Law & Mediation Centre, in Coolock, Dublin. Click here to read the full issue.

More information on the work of MLRC is available on our website at www.mercylaw.ie.

Disclaimer

All information provided on this Blog is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or a legal contract between this Blog and any person or entity unless otherwise specified.   Click here to read more.

Blog, 30th Nov 2012

Mercy Law Resource Centre held its Annual General Meeting on 22nd November 2012.  The Board adopted the Financial Accounts for the year and heard an outline of the work of MLRC for the year from the Chair.  MLRC also welcomed two new members to the board, chartered accountant Liam Twohig and solicitor Niall Farrell.  We are delighted to have their vast levels of experience contributing to the work of the MLRC board.

The Board Members for 2012-2013 are:

Helena Donoghue (Chair); Patrick Stagg (Secretary); Ciara McGrath; Deirdre Quigley; Jo Kennedy; Anne Doyle; Gerry Whyte; Niall Farrell and Liam Twohig.

Liam Twohig is a Senior Partner, Audit & Assurance in Baker, Tilly, Ryan, Glennon, Accountants.  Liam has more than 30 years experience in general practice, including business advisory services with emphasis on inward investment, corporate governance and risk management support.  From 2001 – 2011 he was a Director and Chairman of the Audit Committee of VHI Healthcare and has served on various committees of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland, and as President of the German-Irish Chamber of Industry and Commerce.

Niall Farrell is the Managing Partner in Patrick J. Farrell Solicitors.  Niall qualified as a Solicitor in Ireland in 1988 and he is also a qualified solicitor in the UK and he is also a notary public.  Niall was a member of the Council of the Law Society of Ireland for many years, has been chairman of many of its committees and is a member of the Incorporated Council for Law Reporting in Ireland which produces the official record of Court Judgments.  He is a member of the Courts Martial Rules Committee and chairs Mental Health Tribunals for the Mental Health Commission. In addition, he is an adjudicator in disputes brought before the Private Residential Tenancies Board.  Niall’s special areas of interest are:  Probate Litigation; Business Law; Charities; Farming and Equestrian Law and Motorcycle Law.  Niall has written articles for newspapers and has appeared on national radio and television.

Helena O’Donoghue as Chair thanked the members of the Board and the staff who have brought MLRC further along the road of valuable service to people under pressure.  In particular she expressed the gratitude of MLRC to all who have contributed by funding and/or other support.  It is very much appreciated.

The past year has seen Mercy Law Resource Centre grow in a very positive and effective way.  We have established strong working relationships with agencies in Ireland dealing with homelessness, those include:  Focus Ireland, Crosscare, Dublin Simon, CAN, CIC’s, Vincent DePaul, etc.   Our services have improved and extended and policy papers have been published regarding important public issues around homelessness.  MLRC is fully compliant with our Legal Auditors, Practicing Certs for all our solicitors are in place and we are in the process of renewing our Professional Indemnity Insurance.  We published our first Annual Report which received positive feedback from all sectors.

To date MLRC has given free legal advice and representation to almost 1,500 individuals, families and NGO’s.  We currently hold five weekly Advice Clinics, 3 in Homeless Hostels and 2 walk in clinics, this has increased from four clinics a week last year.   There have been approximately 540 queries in the last year.  Of those, approximately 280 related to housing, 60 related to social welfare and 70 related to family law.  At present MLRC has 52 open files, 45 new clients since the start of the year of which 29 relate to housing and 9 to social welfare law.

MLRC has taken a number of High Court cases with successful outcomes, one specific case led to legislative change and another provided a written judgment which will have significant impact in the way in which Local Authorities deal with housing applications.  MLRC has thirteen Volunteer Befrienders with thirteen clients currently being befriended.  Befrienders offer personal support and encouragement to people seeking legal assistance from MLRC.  MLRC continues to provide training to staff of various organisations working with the homeless and we are considering providing two large Training Workshops next year.  MLRC is part of an informal Housing Group which published its first booklet “Social Housing Rights Explained”, the Group is currently actively engaged in a Collective Complaint against Ireland which will be lodged with the Committee for Social Rights in the Council of Europe.

MLRC moved into larger premises this year within the Sophia Housing complex.  Rose Wall, Solicitor in Charge was on maternity leave from March and Bernie Walsh, Solicitor is covering the interim period.  A part-time Administrator/Fundraiser was employed and we have a number of experienced solicitors now volunteering with MLRC throughout the year.  Our working relationship with Mason Hayes and Curran continues to grow as they provide us with financial support and Intern Solicitors to work within MLRC.  The on-going pro-bono support we receive from Solicitors and Barristers is a huge assistance to us in our work and we are very grateful for the support we receive from all.

MLRC is engaging in a real way with Social Media, ensuring the website is continuously updated,  our first online E-zine was published and we also have 14 Blog’s, all highlighting the work of MLRC.  The plans for on-going funding are progressing favourably and in 2011 we received almost half our budget from various organisations.  MLRC is very grateful to all donors, particularly the Sisters of Mercy for their continued funding.  There is a huge need for the continuation and expansion of our service on the model already established.

More information on the work of MLRC is available on the website at www.mercylaw.ie.

Disclaimer

All information provided on this Blog is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or a legal contract between this Blog and any person or entity unless otherwise specified.   Click here to read more.