Policy Work

Policy Work2024-04-02T13:56:00+00:00

Through our casework, we identify issues which unduly affect our client group. Our policy work is informed by this on-the-ground experience and aims to advocate to change harmful laws, policies and attitudes. We advocate to ensure people who are homeless have equal and effective access to justice.

Where possible we collaborate with others to work together to bring about meaningful change. All of our publications are available here.

Our Strategic Plan for 2019-2024 is available here

Our advocacy is currently focused on three main areas:

Discrimination in relation to accessing housing entitlements

MLRC acts for a high proportion of ethnic minority clients, including members of the Traveller community and individuals of Roma ethnicity. We have identified a number of legal barriers that make it difficult for such applicants to access their housing entitlements.

In September, 2023, MLRC published a report Social Housing Domestic Violence and the Public Sector Duty that focused on the intersection of domestic violence and homelessness – particularly the barriers to accessing housing supports faced by those who have fled their homes because of domestic violence. The report made several practical recommendations for change. It was launched by Ivana Bacik, T.D., at a conference in September attended by keyworkers and experts working in the area, some of whom shared their experiences and expertise during a panel discussion.

In February 2023, MLRC produced a report on Mental Health and Social Housing Supports that examined the barriers experienced by those with mental health challenges to accessing appropriate, suitable and secure social housing supports and homeless entitlements in Ireland. The report also set out a number of positive recommendations, including in relation to local authorities and Government departments’ obligations under the Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty. The report was launched at a conference hosted by MLRC by Mary Butler, Minister of State at the Department of Health.

In March 2021 MLRC published a report Minority Groups and Housing: Barriers to Access which highlighted these issues and made practical recommendations for reform. The report was launched by the Minister for Housing and MLRC had a follow-up meeting with the Minister to discuss recommendations arising from the report.

Issues arising in emergency accommodation

MLRC has repeatedly raised urgent concern in relation to the manner in which homeless accommodation is provided to vulnerable individuals and families, and has called for legal reform to move towards a rights-based framework.

In December 2020, MLRC launched a report, The Lived Experiences of Homeless Families, the report documented the experiences of many of our clients and set out the issues by way of personal and professional voices. The report contained several recommendations that provide for the core of our advocacy going forward in 2020.

On 12 June 2019, MLRC presented to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government in relation to child and family homelessness. In June 2017, MLRC made a submission to the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government with regard to the provision of emergency accommodation by local authorities and continues to advocate for improvements to the provision.

Access to Justice

In February 2023, MLRC published a report entitled Making free legal and advocacy services accessible – building a hybrid service delivery model for Mercy Law Resource Centre which was launched by the Minister of State at the Department of Health with responsibility for Mental Health and Older People. The report highlighted the accessibility obstacles to people seeking to vindicate their rights and made recommendations on how to overcome these obstacles.

In February 2023, MLRC Managing Solicitor, Aoife Kelly Desmond, was invited to participate in the Chief Justice’s Working Group conference on Access to Justice. In July 2023, the report Access to Justice Conference: Civil Legal Aid Review: An Opportunity to develop a model system in Ireland was published, with Aoife’s contribution discussed on page 61 of the report.

Right to housing

MLRC continues to advocate for legal protection of the right to housing.

We are a founding member of the ‘Home for Good’ coalition which is a group of interested parties calling for recognition of the right to housing in the Constitution. We also chair the legal sub-group of Home for Good.

MLRC has published a trilogy of reports on the right to housing:

In July 2022 MLRC appeared on behalf of Home for Good before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing to discuss the right to housing. A video of our appearance is available here.

Also in July 2022, The Housing Commission launched a public consultation seeking views on a Referendum on Housing in Ireland. The Commission asked that submissions should consider the need for a constitutional amendment and, if so, what form it should take. See MLRC’s submission on the public consultations here.

We previously appeared before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on this topic and related homelessness matters in June 2019, June 2018 and May 2016. In 2016, MLRC also appeared before the Universal Periodic Review in Geneva to speak about our work and the gaps in legal protection for those who are homeless in Ireland, focusing on the need for the recognition of the right to housing in Ireland.


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