MLRC invites you to the MLRC April Fool’s Day Comedy Gala, on Tuesday 1 April 2014, in the Sugar Club, Leeson Street

Mercy Law Resource Centre will be holding a Comedy Gala on Tuesday 1 April 2014 in the Sugar Club, Leeson Street, Dublin 2! We would be delighted to see you there!

The Comedy Gala will raise funds to help MLRC continue to provide our services, of free legal advice and representation, befriending service, training and legal support, and policy work, to help those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

Tickets will be €10 and go on sale next week.  Further details and how to book your tickets will be available on our website next week!

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MLRC welcomes the overwhelming vote by the Constitutional Convention to recommend to the Government the strengthening of economic, social and cultural rights into the Constitution, 24/2/14

On Sunday, 23 February the Constitutional Convention voted overwhelmingly in favour of amending the Constitution to strengthen the protection of economic, social and cultural rights.  85% of the delegates voted in favour of increased protection of these rights in the Constitution.  The majority also voted for the strongest possible protection option – of inserting a provision in the Constitution that the State shall progressively realise economic, social and cultural rights, subject to maximum available resources and that this duty is cognisable by the courts, i.e. that the courts can consider and adjudicate on these rights.

The Convention also voted that, along with a general protection provision, specific economic, social and cultural rights should be expressly stated in the Constitution.  Those specific rights include the right to housing, with 84% of the Convention voting in favour of including that right in the Constitution.

The other specific rights that the Convention voted in favour of including in the Constitution are:  social security, essential health care, rights of people with disabilities, linguistic and cultural rights and the rights covered in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Background to Convention vote

The Constitutional Convention had met at the weekend, 22 and 23 February, to consider whether to recommend to the Government that economic, social and cultural rights should be incorporated into the Constitution.  The right to housing is currently not protected in our Constitution nor in legislation.  The right to housing is one that is within the category, as recognised in international human rights law, of economic, social and cultural rights.

Economic, social and cultural rights are currently protected in a very limited manner in the Constitution.  The Convention heard from academic experts Dr Liam Thornton, Aoife Nolan and David Fennelly on what economic, social and cultural rights are, how they are protected in the Constitution, and models from other jurisdictions of how these rights are incorporated into national constitutions. These concise, clear reports are available on the Human Rights in Ireland website: http://humanrights.ie/children-and-the-law/the-constitutional-convention-briefing-papers-on-economic-social-cultural-rights/

The Convention on the Constitution is a forum of 100 people, representative of Irish society and parliamentarians from the island of Ireland, with an independent Chairman.  The Convention was established by resolution of both Houses of the Oireachtas to consider and make recommendations on certain topics as possible future amendments to the Constitution. The Government has undertaken to respond to the Convention’s recommendations within four months by way of debates in the Oireachtas and where it agrees with a particular recommendation to amend the Constitution, to include a timeframe for a referendum.  For more information on the Convention and its workings, see www.constitution.ie.

An important step towards a constitutional right to housing and ending homelessness

The inclusion of these rights in our Constitution would greatly strengthen the protection of Irish citizens who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. MLRC is a member of the Economic Social and Cultural Rights Initiative, which includes Amnesty International Ireland and Focus Ireland.  MLRC welcomes the Convention’s decision as an important positive step towards a constitutional right to housing.

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MLRC supports the call for the Constitutional Convention to recommend to the Government the incorporation of economic, social and cultural rights into the Constitution, 21/2/14

This weekend, 22 and 23 February, the Constitutional Convention is meeting to consider whether to recommend to the Government that economic, social and cultural rights should be incorporated into the Constitution.  The right to housing is currently not protected in our Constitution nor in legislation.  This right to housing is one that is within the category, as recognised in international human rights law, of economic, social and cultural rights.

The Convention on the Constitution is a forum of 100 people, representative of Irish society and parliamentarians from the island of Ireland, with an independent Chairman.  The Convention was established by resolution of both Houses of the Oireachtas to consider and make recommendations on certain topics as possible future amendments to the Constitution. The Government has undertaken to respond to the Convention’s recommendations within four months by way of debates in the Oireachtas and where it agrees with a particular recommendation to amend the Constitution, to include a timeframe for a referendum.

This weekend, academic experts on economic, social and cultural rights, Dr. Liam Thornton, Aoife Nolan and David Fennelly will be presenting to the Convention on what economic, social and cultural rights are, how they are protected in the Constitution, and models from other jurisdictions of how these rights are incorporated into national constitutions. Amnesty International Ireland, the Irish Human Rights Commission will be advocating for the inclusion of these rights in our Constitution. Focus Ireland, which had made a submission to the Convention on the right to housing, will be involved in a panel discussion on inclusion of these rights.

The inclusion of these rights in our Constitution would greatly strengthen the right of Irish citizens to housing and a home. MLRC is a member of the Economic Social and Cultural Rights Initiative, which includes Amnesty International Ireland and Focus Ireland.  MLRC calls for inclusion of these rights in our Constitution and looks forward to a positive outcome from this weekend’s meeting. For more details and a live streaming of the Convention meeting, see http://www.constitution.ie.

 

 

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Successful outcome for MLRC client, a separated husband with an interest in the family home: Council issues housing need for assistance letter enabling him access rent supplement, 18/2/14

MLRC has recently assisted a client obtain a housing need for assistance letter from a local authority.  This letter enabled our client to apply for Rent Supplement to pay for his private rented accommodation. The local authority issued the need for assistance letter to our client  in recognition that although the client is not, in its view, eligible yet to be put on the housing list, he has a housing need.

Our client had separated from his wife and had left the family home. He was unemployed and was renting privately.  As he is a homeowner, he could not access social welfare payments in respect of rent supplement nor could he access the local authority’s housing list.

MLRC  assisted the client with his application to the local authority to be placed on its housing list.  The local authority has not yet accepted him for inclusion on the housing list.  The authority will not do so until our client has a legal resolution to the ownership of the family home.  MLRC, in its submissions on behalf of our client to the local authority, made clear to the local authority that our client has health problems and other personal issues.  MLRC also provided written confirmation that family law proceedings have been initiated.  In light of these submissions, the local authority issued a housing need for assistance letter.

With this letter, our client can apply for Rent Supplement and alleviate his immediate uncertain housing situation.  The local authority has also stated that it will consider again our client’s application for entry on the housing list once his family law proceedings have concluded.

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MLRC thanks those involved in our recent training day, 14/2/14

MLRC thanks our Befrienders and Maeve Hurley and Evanna Lyons of “Ag Eisteacht” for supporting our Befriending Service at an excellent training day in February.

One of Mercy Law Resource Centre’s key services is our Befriending service.  Our Befriender volunteers befriend clients to accompany them and provide them with emotional and practical support as they go through the difficult process of trying to assert their rights.

In January, MLRC welcomed on board five new Befriender volunteers.  The new Befrienders attended a very special training day on 1 February 2014, given by Maeve Hurley and Evanna Lyons of ‘Ag Eisteacht’.  A number of current Befrienders and MLRC staff also attended. This training day was extremely useful in developing skills in how to react and respond to clients in order to be as of much benefit to them as possible in a limited time frame.

Attendees learned how to:

  • Recognise and read signals of underlying issues that clients may be upset about or dwelling on.
  • Respond to those signals so that the client will feel comfortable about opening up and discussing their problems.
  • Reflect encouragingly what the client has confided.
  • How to end the encounter in a constructive way.

MLRC would like to thank Maeve Hurley and Evanna Lyons for a lively, very interesting and worthwhile training day.  MLRC extends a huge thanks to our Befrienders, new and continuing, for giving their time and great energy for this training day and being prepared to be put through their paces with plenty of role play.  The day proved to be educational, entertaining and uplifting!

 Befriender training 1 February 2014

Front row (left to right): Jo Kenny, John Curran, Sr. Nuala Kennedy, Mubarak Hamid, Sr. Kathleen Delaney

Back row (left to right): Evanna Lyons (Ag Eisteacht), Sr. Caitriona O’Hara (MLRC Befriending Service Coordinator), Shauna Curran (MLRC Administrator), Fiona Murray, Maeve Regan (MLRC Solicitor in Charge), Nuala Monaghan, Sabrina Comerford (MLRC Solicitor), Maeve Hurley (Ag Eisteacht)

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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.