This month MLRC is opening a new legal outreach clinic, in partnership with Exchange House Ireland National Traveller Service, specifically to provide legal advice and representation to members of the Traveller community who are facing housing difficulties. We are most grateful to ESB Electricity Aid for Generations for part-funding the clinic.
MLRC has been vocal in highlighting the barriers that exist to adequate housing and homeless provision for members of the Traveller community. Our former solicitor David Joyce recently chaired the National Traveller Accommodation Expert Review Group, which in its final report made a number of strong recommendations to improve housing provision for Travellers.
Over recent years, MLRC has seen an increasing number of Travellers needing recourse to our legal service to avert a housing crisis and to secure safe and adequate housing. Our own experience is that this group has been disproportionately impacted by the housing crisis. National statistics bear this out: members of the Traveller community make up 8.8% of the homeless population despite being only 0.7% of the national population.
MLRC notes with concern the complete dearth of accessible legal advice available to this marginalised group, including on housing and homeless matters. The closure of the Irish Traveller Movement independent law centre further limited the provision.
In order to partially fill that gap, MLRC will now operate a monthly legal advice clinic hosted by Exchange House Ireland National Traveller Service. MLRC solicitors will meet with vulnerable individuals and families referred to the clinic by our partners at Exchange House and other organisations who are supporting members of the Traveller community. Subject to continued funding, we seek to run the clinic for a twelve-month cycle, reviewing our impact and progress at regular intervals throughout the year.
We have worked closely with colleagues at Exchange House for several years now. Our interventions have been consistently strengthened by their compassionate and committed work and support to our clients. We are very grateful to our colleagues at Exchange House for agreeing to partner with us on this project.
We are also most grateful to ESB Electricity Aid for Generations for providing part funding for this clinic and for their previous support of our other outreach clinics over several years.
If you are interested in supporting this clinic or our work more generally, please do get in contact. You can find more information on how to support our service here.