Providing Equal Access to Justice for All
Resource type: Grantee Story
The Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC), acting on behalf of Dr. Lydia Foy, successfully challenged the Irish Government’s refusal to allow transgendered people to alter their birth certificates to accurately reflect their new identities. In a landmark case, the High Court formally declared in February 2008 that the Irish Government’s position was incompatible with the European Convention of Human Rights. As of September 2009, the government had not acted on this declaration so further legal action may be required.
“Dr. Lydia Foy, together with FLAC, has challenged the rigid gender stereotypes that stand in the way of recognition,” says Noeline Blackwell, Director General of the Free Legal Advice Centres. “It is a stepping stone on the way to building a more tolerant and inclusive society that values and respects difference and diversity.”
FLAC, an independent human rights organisation dedicated to equal access to justice for all, was established by a group of law students in 1969 to highlight the extent of unmet legal need in Ireland. And 40 years later, this nongovernment organisation continues to provide basic legal advice to the public through its network of 400 volunteer lawyers, as well as groundbreaking cases for people like Dr. Foy.
In addition, FLAC campaigns for reform in four main areas: legal aid, social welfare, credit, and debt and public interest law. For its work on behalf of disadvantaged people, FLAC utilises a combination of tactics, including research and analysis, strategic litigation, and consensus building and strategic alliances across a breadth of groups ranging from government and statutory bodies, to colleagues in the nongovernmental and legal sectors and the media. Atlantic’s grant provides core support to this organisation.
With 400 volunteer lawyers providing advice to the public through citizens’ information centres, FLAC seeks equal access to justice for all regarding daily issues like social welfare, debt, equality and family law to test cases such as challenging the incompatibility of human rights in the High Court.