Now taking bookings for a series of 6 training workshops in social welfare law, delivered by Professor Gerry Whyte

MLRC is holding a course in social welfare law, which will be delivered by Professor Gerry Whyte, Associate Professor School of Law, Trinity College Dublin.  The training, consisting of six workshops, will provide a detailed overview of social welfare law. The training will be of particular benefit for those dealing with and advising on social welfare law issues.

The course will be delivered through a series of six workshops. The topics that will be covered are:

  • Sources of social welfare law
  • Claims and appeals
  • Social Insurance
  • Social Assistance
  • Rates of payment
  • Supplementary Welfare Allowance
  • Unemployment and low pay
  • Illness, incapacity and caring
  • Family payments
  • The elderly and survivors

Participants would be expected to attend all six workshops to receive maximum benefit from the training. The training will be held over three weeks from 10 am to 12 noon, on: Tuesday 31st May, Thursday 2nd June, Tuesday 7th June, Thursday 9th June, Tuesday 14th June and Thursday 16th June

The training will be held at Sophia Housing, 25 Cork Street, Dublin 8. The cost per participant is €60 for all six workshops.

The spaces for this training are limited so please do book early if you wish to attend.  If you are interested in booking a place(s) for this Social Welfare Law training please contact Shauna Curran at Mercy Law Resource Centre on 01 4537459 or by email shauna@mercylaw.ie by 5pm on Monday 23rd May 2016.

 

 

 

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UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) – MLRC lobbies in Geneva and in Dublin, to State Missions highlighting the major gaps in the protection of the right to housing in Ireland – ahead of the UPR review to take place on 11 May

MLRC’s written submissions for the UPR

As noted in a previous blog post before Christmas, the UN Universal Periodic Review is taking place in 2016 in relation to Ireland. This review is of countries’ records of compliance with all human rights obligations. In September, MLRC sent its submission to the UN High Commission for Human Rights for the the UN Universal Periodic Review. MLRC’s submission is available here. Among MLRC’s recommendations in the light of this crisis in homelessness, were that the right to housing be protected in Irish law, that civil legal aid be extended to cases of eviction, and that legislative and policy measures be put in place to ensure rent supplement and the new Housing Assistance Payment can meet market rent.

MLRC also submitted to the ICCL Your Rights Right Now stakeholder report, Your Rights Right Now.  This report is available here.

MLRC submitted to the Department of Justice, in response to its request for submissions ahead of the UPR, this report is available here.  MLRC participated in the consultation held by the Department of Justice on the submissions in November, highlighting the key points of the submission in respect of the vital need for the right to housing and legal aid in cases of eviction from social housing.

MLRC Lobbying for the UPR on the right to housing

UN Human rights Council sitting March 2016 smallMLRC travelled to Geneva in March and in April to lobby Missions on the major gaps in the protection of the right to housing in Ireland.  MLRC met there with a number of Missions to discuss the crisis in homelessness, and the causes and effects.  MLRC also presented to Missions at a Pre-Session information session for Missions organised by UPR Info, a Geneva based NGO.  Over 40 Missions attended that Pre-Session and it was a very useful forum to raise the issues for delegates from a very wide range of countries. The aim of the lobbying is that Missions will be informed as to the major housing and homelessness issues here, the breaches of the international human rights law right to housing that are occurring and the lack of protection of the right to housing.  Click here for a copy here for the statement and here for a copy of the presentation given by MLRC at the Pre-Session.

 

About the UPR

The Universal Periodic Review of Ireland is taking place in the Palais des Nations, Geneva, on 11 May.  The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all UN Member States. The UPR is a State-driven process, under the Human Rights Council. It gives the opportunity for each State to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfil their human rights obligations.

The UPR was created through the UN General Assembly on 15 March 2006 by resolution 60/251, which established the Human Rights Council itself. It is a cooperative process which, by October 2011, has reviewed the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States.

Currently, no other universal mechanism of this kind exists. The UPR is one of the key elements of the Council which reminds States of their responsibility to fully respect and implement all human rights and fundamental freedoms. The ultimate aim of this mechanism is to improve the human rights situation in all countries and address human rights violations wherever they occur. For more information see http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/UPRMain.aspx

 

 

Launch of the Mercy Law Resource Centre Report on the Right to Housing

On Wednesday, 4 May at 11.30am, in Buswells Hotel, Molesworth Street, MLRC will be launching its Report on the Right to Housing in Ireland. We would be delighted to see you there.

 

Launch of the Mercy Law Resource Centre

Report on the Right to Housing

Venue: Georgian Suite, Buswells Hotel, Molesworth Street, Dublin 2

Date: 11.30am, Wednesday 4 May 2016

The report will be formally launched by Judge Catherine McGuinness

Mr Paul McSweeney, Chair of Tasc Economists’ Network will give an address on the economic context of the right to housing. The presentations will be followed by a Q&A discussion.

 

Please RSVP by Tuesday 3 May 2016

By email to Shauna Curran:  shauna@mercylaw.ie or 01 4537459

 

About Mercy Law Resource Centre’s report on the Right to Housing in Ireland

Mercy Law Resource Centre is calling for the protection of the right to housing in the Constitution. The right to housing would help those who are facing homelessness now and would be a fundamental safeguard against the recurrence of this gravely unacceptable crisis.

A right to housing in the Constitution would not mean the right to a key to a home for all.  A Constitutional right to housing would however put in place a basic floor of protection. It would recognise that a home is central to the dignity and possibility of every person.  It would mean that the courts could look at the decision as to whether it was ‘proportionate’ by reference to the right. It would mean that Government and State policies and actions would have to respect the right.

The right to housing is recognised in Europe in the Constitutions of Belgium, Finland, Greece, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden and in the legislation of Austria, France, Germany, Luxembourg, and the United Kingdom.  Around the world, the right to housing is included in eighty-one Constitutions. The right to adequate housing is provided for in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the European Social Charter.  The right to housing would put in place a basic protection in recognition that a home is central to the dignity of each and every person and a foundation of every person’s life.

Mercy Law Resource Centre’s report on the Right to Housing in Ireland assesses the protection of the right to housing in Irish law and outlines the impact that a Constitutional right to housing would have.

We look forward to seeing you at the launch.

 

 

 

 

 

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MLRC assisting families refused emergency accommodation and at risk of rough sleeping

We have had a worrying increase in recent weeks of very urgent queries into our office from homeless families, often with young children, being refused emergency accommodation by local authorities. Such refusals put them at risk of rough sleeping and complete destitution and have a devastating impact on the families. The cases we have dealt with have mostly resolved quickly with our intervention but we are extremely concerned that other families may be affected and that local authorities in some instances are not meeting their legal obligations to these vulnerable families.

Our experience is that families when they present to the local authorities and are assessed and refused emergency accommodation, are not being provided with written reasons for their refusal often despite their asking in person for such written reasons. Failure to provide reasons for a decision on such a fundamental issue is in breach of their right to fair procedures. If given or ascertained by our office, the reasons for the refusals of emergency accommodation vary, and include: refusal on the basis of presentation to the wrong local authority and being referred to the local authority in the administrative area in which they were made homeless; refusal on the basis that the family have alternative accommodation available to them; refusal on the basis of what appears to be ‘intentional’ or ‘voluntary’ homelessness.

Definition of “homeless” and legal entitlements when a person is homeless

Section 2 of the Housing Act 1988 sets out the conditions for deciding who qualifies as homeless.  Under this Act, you will be regarded as homeless if:

  • there is no accommodation available which, in the opinion of the local authority, you could reasonably occupy, and
  • in the opinion of the local authority, you are unable to provide accommodation from your own resources.

This definition covers both you and anyone else who normally lives with you or might reasonably be expected to live with you.  You will also be regarded as homeless if you live in a hospital, county home, night shelter or similar institution because you have no other accommodation and, again in the local authority’s opinion, you are unable to provide accommodation from your own resources.

Section 10 of the 1988 empowers the local authority to provide accommodation to a homeless person or provide financial support for a homeless person to source accommodation (known as the self-accommodation option).  There is a statutory entitlement to a housing assessment that extends to an assessment as to whether or not you are homeless.

Representing families who the Council has unlawfully refused to recognise as homeless – an alarming increase in such cases

In the cases we have dealt with, we have corresponded with the local authority and sought written reasons for their decision. Our experience is that families are provided with emergency accommodation shortly after we have got involved and before a substantive response is received to our correspondence. This is obviously an enormous relief to the families, who nonetheless face a lengthy stay in a hotel before securing any longer-term accommodation.

These types of cases are new to our office and we are alarmed by the number of cases that we are seeing. While we are pleased to have secured positive outcomes for these families at a very early stage, it is a concern that these cases are arising in the first place and we hope that these incidences will not form a recurring pattern in our casework.

 

 

 

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MLRC welcomes Sinead Kerin as solicitor with MLRC

Sinead Kerin headshotMLRC is delighted to welcome Sinead Kerin as our new solicitor and colleague! Sinead who has been working with MLRC since May 2015 as a locum solicitor, has now stepped into the new role of a third full-time solicitor with MLRC.

Sinead is a solicitor with extensive experience in social welfare and housing law having worked with Focus Ireland in Limerick for several years.  Sinead graduated from University College Cork and has a degree in Sociology and Geography and completed her Masters in International Studies from the University of Limerick. Sinead worked as a legal researcher for the Northern Ireland Assembly, the University of Ulster and for a Member of the European Union before qualifying as a solicitor in 2009 having completed her apprenticeship with Augustus Cullen Law in Wicklow. Since qualification Sinead has worked as a legal researcher for the International Development Law Organisation, a Child Law Legal Researcher for McMahon Solicitors and as manager of Focus Ireland Advice & Advocacy Centre in Limerick where she her main work and advocacy was in social welfare and housing law. Sinead is an active volunteer and member of the Public Interest Law Alliance (PILA), the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, (ISPCC) and Amnesty International.

We are delighted to very warmly welcome Sinead to the MLRC team and working with Sinead to grow and build on MLRC’s work providing free legal help for people at the margins of our society.

 

 

 

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Thank you to everyone who supported The April Fools Comedy Gala in aid of MLRC!

Thank you to everyone who came to the third annual April Fools Comedy Gala on 13 April in the Sugar Club! You raised almost €5,000 for MLRC! Thank you for your huge support which helps ensure that MLRC can continue to provide and develop our services to support and help people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

A huge thank you from MLRC to Jarlath Regan whose idea this show is, for producing the show and for MC’ing, so generously and with such great energy and fun, and to the brilliant John Colleary, Alison Spittle, Colm O’Regan and Joe Rooney for their fantastic performances! All of the performers immediately agreed to the invitation to perform for free at the Gala. They made this event possible. Thank you!

We look forward to seeing everyone at next year’s Comedy Gala in aid of MLRC!

Comedy 2016 1

comedy 2016 4

comedy 2016 3

comedy Joe Rooney

comedy 2016 2

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