Mr Pat Carey T.D, Minister for State at the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs will present a group of Ballymun-based students, who participated in an NUI Galway law course through an interactive video link, with Certificates of Attendance on Friday, 9 July 2007, at the Ballymun Civic Centre, Dublin.
The Housing Law & Policy course – the first of its kind in Ireland, was developed and presented by Dr. Padraic Kenna of the Faculty of Law, NUI Galway in conjunction with the Ballymun Community Law Centre. The lectures were videolinked in real time to community volunteers, welfare staff, local authority tenants and their representatives, and other interested parties living in Ballymun. Over 12 weeks, the Ballymun group gathered in the Council Chamber Civic Offices to link via video with some 60 Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Civil Law students at NUI Galway for the interactive weekly classes.
Dr Padraic Kenna, law lecturer at NUI Galway is the author of the definitive work Housing Law and Policy in Ireland. According to Dr Kenna; "An innovative use of the latest technology has allowed NUI Galway to reach out into the heart of a Dublin community where housing law and policies have had such an impact". The course covered the traditional housing and property law areas, such as mortgages and conveyancing, as well as social housing and modern approaches to social inclusion in housing. There was also a focus on preparing participants for active input into the forthcoming Housing Bill.
This innovative link-up was facilitated by NUI Galway's Community Knowledge Initiative, which promotes civic engagement among academics, students and the wider community.
Since its inception, the Ballymun Community Law Centre has consistently sought to empower the residents and community workers of Ballymun. BCLC Solicitor Frank Murphy, a law graduate of NUI, Galway, described the opportunity to tap into NUI Galway's expertise in the area of housing law as "a unique opportunity".
"Participants came from throughout the Ballymun area and the interchange between the students, tenants and Dr Kenna was truly enlightening. On the last night all the students and tenants presented their own papers over the video link and this proved a wonderful culmination of the excellent course," he said.
"I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr Kenna for his pioneering work in video-linking his course to us here in Ballymun. The law can only be considered our law if the people are actively involved in it and Dr Kenna is leading the way in making it our law by providing such magnificent access to legal education."
Plans are under way to continue the collaboration between NUI Galway and the Ballymun Community Law Centre to offer the interactive course next year.