Mercy Law Resource Centre held its Annual General Meeting on 22nd November 2012. The Board adopted the Financial Accounts for the year and heard an outline of the work of MLRC for the year from the Chair. MLRC also welcomed two new members to the board, chartered accountant Liam Twohig and solicitor Niall Farrell. We are delighted to have their vast levels of experience contributing to the work of the MLRC board.
The Board Members for 2012-2013 are:
Helena Donoghue (Chair); Patrick Stagg (Secretary); Ciara McGrath; Deirdre Quigley; Jo Kennedy; Anne Doyle; Gerry Whyte; Niall Farrell and Liam Twohig.
Liam Twohig is a Senior Partner, Audit & Assurance in Baker, Tilly, Ryan, Glennon, Accountants. Liam has more than 30 years experience in general practice, including business advisory services with emphasis on inward investment, corporate governance and risk management support. From 2001 – 2011 he was a Director and Chairman of the Audit Committee of VHI Healthcare and has served on various committees of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland, and as President of the German-Irish Chamber of Industry and Commerce.
Niall Farrell is the Managing Partner in Patrick J. Farrell Solicitors. Niall qualified as a Solicitor in Ireland in 1988 and he is also a qualified solicitor in the UK and he is also a notary public. Niall was a member of the Council of the Law Society of Ireland for many years, has been chairman of many of its committees and is a member of the Incorporated Council for Law Reporting in Ireland which produces the official record of Court Judgments. He is a member of the Courts Martial Rules Committee and chairs Mental Health Tribunals for the Mental Health Commission. In addition, he is an adjudicator in disputes brought before the Private Residential Tenancies Board. Niall’s special areas of interest are: Probate Litigation; Business Law; Charities; Farming and Equestrian Law and Motorcycle Law. Niall has written articles for newspapers and has appeared on national radio and television.
Helena O’Donoghue as Chair thanked the members of the Board and the staff who have brought MLRC further along the road of valuable service to people under pressure. In particular she expressed the gratitude of MLRC to all who have contributed by funding and/or other support. It is very much appreciated.
The past year has seen Mercy Law Resource Centre grow in a very positive and effective way. We have established strong working relationships with agencies in Ireland dealing with homelessness, those include: Focus Ireland, Crosscare, Dublin Simon, CAN, CIC’s, Vincent DePaul, etc. Our services have improved and extended and policy papers have been published regarding important public issues around homelessness. MLRC is fully compliant with our Legal Auditors, Practicing Certs for all our solicitors are in place and we are in the process of renewing our Professional Indemnity Insurance. We published our first Annual Report which received positive feedback from all sectors.
To date MLRC has given free legal advice and representation to almost 1,500 individuals, families and NGO’s. We currently hold five weekly Advice Clinics, 3 in Homeless Hostels and 2 walk in clinics, this has increased from four clinics a week last year. There have been approximately 540 queries in the last year. Of those, approximately 280 related to housing, 60 related to social welfare and 70 related to family law. At present MLRC has 52 open files, 45 new clients since the start of the year of which 29 relate to housing and 9 to social welfare law.
MLRC has taken a number of High Court cases with successful outcomes, one specific case led to legislative change and another provided a written judgment which will have significant impact in the way in which Local Authorities deal with housing applications. MLRC has thirteen Volunteer Befrienders with thirteen clients currently being befriended. Befrienders offer personal support and encouragement to people seeking legal assistance from MLRC. MLRC continues to provide training to staff of various organisations working with the homeless and we are considering providing two large Training Workshops next year. MLRC is part of an informal Housing Group which published its first booklet “Social Housing Rights Explained”, the Group is currently actively engaged in a Collective Complaint against Ireland which will be lodged with the Committee for Social Rights in the Council of Europe.
MLRC moved into larger premises this year within the Sophia Housing complex. Rose Wall, Solicitor in Charge was on maternity leave from March and Bernie Walsh, Solicitor is covering the interim period. A part-time Administrator/Fundraiser was employed and we have a number of experienced solicitors now volunteering with MLRC throughout the year. Our working relationship with Mason Hayes and Curran continues to grow as they provide us with financial support and Intern Solicitors to work within MLRC. The on-going pro-bono support we receive from Solicitors and Barristers is a huge assistance to us in our work and we are very grateful for the support we receive from all.
MLRC is engaging in a real way with Social Media, ensuring the website is continuously updated, our first online E-zine was published and we also have 14 Blog’s, all highlighting the work of MLRC. The plans for on-going funding are progressing favourably and in 2011 we received almost half our budget from various organisations. MLRC is very grateful to all donors, particularly the Sisters of Mercy for their continued funding. There is a huge need for the continuation and expansion of our service on the model already established.
More information on the work of MLRC is available on the website at www.mercylaw.ie.
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