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FLAC warns gardai on vetting of local authority housing applicants
Justice minister Charlie Flanagan launches FLAC annual report Pic: Derek Speirs

03 Oct 2019 / justice Print

FLAC warns gardai about vetting of local authority housing applicants

FLAC received 25,164 requests for legal advice in 2018 according to its annual report. And 13,678 people received basic legal advice from volunteer lawyers in its clinics at 71 locations nationwide.

Their telephone referral and information line took a total of 11,486 calls last year with 24.2%, or 2781, relating to family law matters including separation, custody, maintenance, civil partnership and domestic violence.

Contract terms

A total of 10.7% of queries, or 1231, related to employment law matters such as contract terms, dismissal, grievance procedures, redundancy and bullying at work.

Just 7.7% of calls related to housing and these came from both tenants and landlords, with 2% from a lodger.

There were 1045 calls about legal services, many from lay litigants in need of advice.

Criminal law matters accounted for 848 queries while civil law concerns totalled 867 calls. There were 705 calls relating to wills and probate. Neighbour disputes accounted for 161 calls while immigration matters made up 129 queries.

A total of 46 calls related to discrimination.

FLAC offers 30 drop-in clinics specifically for those of Roma extraction and currently has 40 active case files for Roma clients and provided advocacy services to 20.

In 2018, FLAC advised a Roma woman who received €7,500 in settlement of a defamation action taken against a Dublin shop which refused her access.

Another “public interest” case involved a woman living in Ireland for ten years who had been refused child benefit because she was not habitually resident. She won her appeal and was paid arrears.

FLAC failed in a case taken on behalf of a traveller, alleging discrimination in education.

Judicial review

FLAC also took four applications for leave to apply for judicial review. Two concerned citizenship and two concerned housing, with the latter two settled in the applicants’ favour.

In walk-in clinics, 34.1% of queries, or 4664, related to family law matters, while 15.6% (2129) related to employment issues.

FLAC dealt with 988 landlord-tenant matters.

Through its Public Interest Law Alliance (PILA) arm, pro bono support was provided for the drafting of the Traveller Culture and History in Education Bill, which provides for mandatory inclusion of traveller history and culture in the school curriculum at primary and post-primary level.

Disability Rights Lawyers Network

PILA also worked on the establishment of the Disability Rights Lawyers Network.

It delivered legal education to 125 NGO staff on topics such as refugee law, spent convictions and the Residential Tenancies Board.

Company formation law was also offered with the aim of increasing migrant women’s entrepreneurial activity in Ireland.

FLAC also acted in cases of vetting for anti-social behaviour by social housing applicants.

Under section 14 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1997, a local authority may refuse an allocation to those who engage in anti-social behaviours.


To this end, the act makes provision for exchange of information between the gardaí and local authorities.

FLAC says that it is concerned that the legislation is “vague and imprecise” in defining the information that is relevant to this information flow.

It says An Garda Siochána should be better guided about their role in vetting applicants for local authority housing so that the information being shared in not in breach of GDPR.

The report cites one case where information was shared in relation to driving and parking offences which FLAC says was not relevant to the housing application.

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