THE first law and mediation centre outside of Dublin will be launched this week in Limerick to provide free legal information, advice, advocacy and services to families and individuals living in the city’s most disadvantaged areas.
Housing Minister and Limerick Labour Party TD, Jan O’Sullivan, who will launch the service, says it is a much-needed service for Limerick and in particular those communities identified for regeneration. It will be of significant benefit to those who otherwise cannot access legal services.
“I believe the Centre will enhance social inclusion within the regeneration communities by the provision of legal information, advice and advocacy services. It is a historic development for Limerick as it is the first law centre of its kind to be established outside of Dublin,” she added.
The Centre will also provide a dispute resolution service and will work to empower the community through education, research and campaigns.
Northside Community Law and Mediation Centre (NCLMC) received funding in 2012 from Limerick Regeneration and the Public Interest Law Alliance to establish a community law and mediation service in Limerick.
The Law Centre commenced providing legal services and free advice clinics in January 2013, together with community education training and aims to roll-out various training courses tailored to the needs of the regeneration communities.
Caroline Keane, solicitor with Limerick Community Law and Mediation Centre, added, “At the outset, the Law Centre undertook a community consultation process to establish the legal needs of the regeneration communities.
“We discovered that a very significant need exists within the regeneration communities for an accessible legal service addressing issues such as housing, family/child related matters and social welfare entitlements,” she explained.
“Since the advice clinics commenced in the four regeneration areas, I am struck by the need for basic information and advice on legal rights and entitlements”.
The Law Centre is based on the model of a community law centre, which aims to promote community development and social inclusion by empowering the local community through the provision of legal services.
Moya de Paor, Acting Managing Solicitor of NCLMC, added, “The model of a community law centre was developed in the United States in the 1960’s. The idea is that law and lawyers can be used by communities to promote social inclusion.
“We believe that Limerick Community Law and Mediation Centre will make a significant difference to disadvantaged communities in Limerick and are delighted to be involved with this initiative,” she concluded.