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Reinforcing access to justice in a more diverse Ireland
Former Chief Justice Frank Clarke Pic: Cian Redmond

13 Sep 2021 / courts Print

Reinforcing access to justice in a diverse Ireland

Details about a planned two-day conference on advancing access to justice, on 1-2 October, have been announced this morning (13 September) by Chief Justice Frank Clarke.

Representative, statutory, and non-governmental organisations in the justice sector will focus on unmet needs in terms of access to justice.

Developments in the COVID-19 era will be examined, and best practice discussed.

Opening day speakers include the Minister for Justice Heather Humphreys, and Judge Síofra O’Leary (European Court of Human Rights).

Day-two workshops will probe the accessibility of the courts, and access to legal services for those in marginal and disadvantaged groups, and there will be a presentation by Eilis Barry of FLAC.

Speakers include disabilities activist Robbie Sinnott, Senator Eileen Flynn, and Bashir Otukoya (Assistant Professor of European Law, DCU).


Workshop themes include:

  • Awareness and information,
  • Access to justice in environmental matters,
  • Legal community outreach – advancing access to justice through education and awareness,
  • Accessibility of courts – court procedures and legal representation,
  • Access to legal services for people in poverty and disadvantaged groups, and
  • Equal treatment in the courts process.

Chief Justice Frank Clarke said that the conference would address how we ensure that the constitutional guarantee of equality before the law is upheld in the day-to-day operations of the justice system as Irish society becomes more diverse, when the needs of different groups must increasingly be considered.


“A major theme of the conference will be to ask: how can we ensure that people have information to identify and address their legal problems in the first place, that alternative ways of resolving legal issues are optimised, and how the courts system might be made accessible to all – in terms of infrastructure, accessibility, technology, procedure as well as cost?” he said.

Registration is now open at http://www.lawsociety.ie/accesstojustice2021.

This conference is being hosted by the Chief Justice’s Working Group, which consists of a representative from the Law Society of Ireland, the Bar of Ireland, the Legal Aid Board, and Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC).

The Working Group was established by the Chief Justice in January 2021 with the goal of improving access to justice in Ireland.

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