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Welcome to MLRC's Quarterly Ezine keeping you up to date on our work in the areas of homelessness, social housing and related social welfare law.

Welcome

Welcome to MLRC's E-zine, Mercy Law Resource Centre is an Independent Law Centre and registered charity providing free legal advice, representation and befriending services to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in the areas of housing and social welfare law. Our main area of work involves assisting homeless persons in realising their rights to adequate housing and means.  These rights are central to the enjoyment of all other rights.  Without them, a person is extremely marginalised and cannot participate and engage fully in society.  We hope you enjoy the content and find it informative, please email us if you have any queries regarding homelessness, social housing or related social welfare law and please check out our website at www.mercylaw.ie.

 

In this issue...

  • MLRC Annual Report
  • MLRC Casework
  • MLRC Policy work
  • MLRC Befriending Programme
  • MLRC welcomes new Staff
  • Publication of Housing booklet "Social Rights Explained"
  • Supreme Court Housing Cases
  • European Court of Human Rights Cases
  • MLRC attends Housing Conference at NUIG, Galway
  • Spent Convictions Bill 2012
  • Housing Bill 2012
  • Merger of Human Rights and Equality Authority Bill Published
  • MLRC Law Society Gazette Article
  • New Mediation Bill to Expand the Use of Mediation in Civil Disputes
  • FEANTSA campaigns against the criminalisation of homlessness
  • FEANTSA reports that homelessness is increasing in the EU

MLRC Annual Report

MLRC was established in 2009 and we are delighted to have published our first Annual Report highlighting the work we have done over the past number of years.  You can read a copy of the report here or contact MLRC for a hard copy.

MLRC Policy Work

Since January 2012, MLRC has submitted a number of policy papers to the Department of the Environment on the following topics:  “Limitations of Rent Supplement and the Private Rented Sector” and “The Proposed Amendment to the Residential Tenancies Act 2004”.  For information on all our Policy Work to date Click here.

MLRC Welcomes New Staff

MLRC is delighted to welcome Geraldine Hynes to our team, she will work as a Volunteer Solicitor with us one day a week.  Geraldine is a solicitor who worked with the Equality Authority for over ten years. She has represented claimants in a range of cases in employment and service provision under all grounds protected by equality legislation.  Click here to read more.

MLRC is delighted to welcome Brian Barry, apprentice solicitor to our offices here at 25 Cork Street.  Brian is an apprentice at Mason, Hayes and Curran (MHC) who have generously agreed that Brian work with MLRC as an intern for the next 3 months.  Brian is a graduate of the TCD Law School where he is completing a PhD thesis “Reforming the Framework for Employment Litigation and Dispute Resolution in Ireland”.  Click here to read more

Supreme Court Housing Update

The Supreme Court has ruled in Donegan v DCC & Gallagher v DCC that section 62 of the Housing Act 1966 (eviction procedure for Local Authority tenancies) is incompatible with Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) as it fails to provide procedural protections to Local Authority tenants against eviction.  Click here to read more.

MLRC attends Housing Conference at NUI Galway

The first international housing research conference, 'Contemporary Housing Issues in a Changing Europe,' was held on 20th/21st April 2012 at NUI Galway. Hosted by Dr Padraic Kenna and the Centre for Housing Law, Rights and Policy, the event attracted over 130 participants from Europe, the US and Israel, with some 35 research papers presented.  Pictured above is Dr. Jim Browne, President NUI Galway, Ms Jan O Sullivan, Minister of State with Special Responsibility for Housing and Planning and Dr Padraic Kenna, Conference Organiser.  Click here to read more.

Spent Convictions Bill 2012

Many clients of MLRC have made tremendous personal efforts to overcome personal difficulties with mental health, addiction issues and adverse environmental circumstances.  Not withstanding these often extensive personal achievements they regularly experience difficulties when seeking to gain access to housing.  In some instances minor offences committed many years ago cause them to fail estate management checks.  MLRC welcomes the recently published Spent Convictions Bill 2012 which we anticipate will facilitate many of our clients in gaining access to social housing.  MLRC and the Housing Group propose to make submissions in relation to this Bill.

MLRC Law Society Article

"Right to Housing Still Subject to Political Will"
Until the commitments set down in the homeless strategy are placed on a statutory footing, the basic human right to housing remains vulneralbe to political will, argues Rose Wall, Solicitor at MLRC.  To read the Law Society Gazette article click here.

FEANTSA campaigns against the criminalisation of Homelessness

FEANTSA is the European Federation of National Organisations working with the Homeless.  It is an umbrella of not-for-profit organisations which participate in or contribute to the fight against homelessness in Europe and it is the only major European network focusing exclusively on homelessness at European level.

FEANTSA is running a campaign against the criminalisation of homelessness. Find out more at www.povertyisnotacrime.org

MLRC Casework

MLRC provides free legal representation, including High Court and Tribunal representation, to individual clients, in the areas of social housing and social welfare law e.g. access to local authority housing, local authority evictions, standards of local authority housing and equality cases. Since January 2012, we have had a number of success stories in relation to our casework.  
For more information
click here.

MLRC Befriending

The Befriending programme is an invaluable asset to MLRC as we recognise that the legal system can be alienating to our clients and difficult and frustrating to negotiate.  We aim to provide our clients with a service that is friendly and easy to access.  Volunteers are available to befriend clients in order to accompany them and provide them with emotional support as they go through the difficult process of trying to assert their rights.  Click here to read more about Befriending.

Housing Booklet Published

MLRC has, together with other members of a Housing Policy Group, prepared a Housing Information Booklet  ”Social Housing Rights Explained”.  It was launched on the 18th April in the Wood Quay Venue, Dublin City Council Civic Offices, Wood Quay, Dublin 8.   There was a large attendance on the morning and they heard presentations from Clare Naughton (Solicitor at NCLC), Frank Murphy (Solicitor at BCLC), Sinead Martin Rialto Rights in Action , Jan O’Sullivan Minister for Housing and Planning and Andrew Montague, the Lord Mayor of Dublin who officially launched the booklet. Click here to read more.

European Court of Human Rights Update

In the recent case of Bjedov v Croatiabefore the European Court of Human Rights (42150/09 29th May 2012), a Croatian woman was granted a right to purchase her rented accommodation on the basis of her right to protection of her home under Article 8 ECHR. The ruling was made in the applicant’s favour despite her occupancy being illegal, and despite a counterclaim taken by the relevant local authority, seeking her eviction.  Click here to read more.

Housing Bill 2012

MLRC advocates on behalf of victims of serious anti-social behaviour who have moved from their Local Authority homes.  The surrender or abandonment of a Local Authority home in these circumstances has meant that a barrier was in place to any further applications for local authority housing.  MLRC welcomes the Housing Bill 2012 which provides certain measures for reinstatement of tenants entitlements to be placed on the Housing List.  Click here to read the Housing Bill.

Merger of Human Rights and Equality Authority Bill Published

The Heads of a Bill to replace the Equality Authority and Human Rights Commission with a new merged body have been published by the Minister for Justice.  Click here to read the Irish Times article by Carol Coulter.

MLRC have made submission to the bill as have the Equality Rights Alliance.  The ERA has produced a 2 page synopsis of some of the positive developments proposed in the draft Bill as well as their key concerns.  Click here to read more.

New Mediation Bill to expand the use of Mediation in Civil Disputes

The Minister for Justice and Equality recently published a Draft General Scheme of a Mediation Bill which introduces a legislative framework for mediation to provide enforceable solutions to a wide range of civil disputes. Simply put, mediation is a structured process whereby two or more parties to a dispute attempt to reach agreement on the settlement of their dispute with the assistance of a mediator.
To view the comments of MLRC with regard to the Bill
read our Blog from 29th June 2012 here

FEANTSA Reports that Homelessness is increasing in the EU

According to FEANTSA, "homelessness is a serious challenge for the EU. At the same time it is clear that countries which develop and maintain effective, integrated strategies to tackle the problem continue to make progress. Conversely, those which lack effective policies or criminalise homelessness are unable to achieve this. Even countries that have made good progress on homelessness in the past face a reversal of their success if they cut funding and abandon more ambitious policies".  To read more from Feantsa and read the latest European Commission Quarterly Reveiw on the Employment and Social Situation in Europe showing that homelessness is increasing the EU, click here.
Mercy Law Resource Centre, a registered charity (CHY No: 18698), 
is totally dependent on charitable funds and needs your support to continue to provide legal services to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. 
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Our mailing address is: info@mercylaw.ie