Thursday, 29 April 2021

- No EU State Aid Related Obstacles - Executive Summary available here: Executive SummaryFull Report available here: Full Report Research being launched today (Thursday 29th April 2021), Commissioned by the Irish Council for Social Housing (ICSH) and produced by Professor Padraic Kenna, at the Centre for Housing Law, Rights and Policy, NUI Galway, confirms that state support in new cost rental housing is in line with EU rules known as services of general economic interest (SGEI), which are decided by Member States, such as Ireland. The report, Supporting the Irish Housing System to Address Housing Market Failure, indicates that State support for cost rental will not distort the housing market, but will contribute to a properly functioning housing system. It outlines how the EU SGEI framework, and the specific conditions that are applied to individual Member States, enable them to support their housing systems to address housing market failure. Highlighting the gap in the market supply of affordable rented housing in Ireland, this report clears the way for larger scale state support in a cost rental scheme, which is badly need to address crippling rents in the private rented sector. The Irish Government will legislate on the terms and conditions of any cost rental programme in the forthcoming Affordable Housing Bill. Speaking at today’s launch Dr Donal McManus, ICSH Chief Executive says, “Our sector has been calling for cost rental housing for a number of years to embed affordability in our housing system. The 2020 Programme for Government commits to a cost rental model that creates affordability for tenants and a long term sustainable model for the construction and management of homes. 390 cost rental home have been approved this year by the Minister for Housing, Darragh O’Brien, to be delivered by three AHBs. Building on this, and as part of the Government’s forthcoming ‘Housing For All’ policy initiative, we would support the recommendation in Professor Kenna’s report that the Government should introduce a multi-annual cost rental programme to ensure continuous delivery of cost rental housing over the coming years. This research provides a comprehensive view on how EU SGEIs operate in the housing sector and identifies that the public policy objective of meeting citizens' housing needs, where this need is not being met by the market, is one of a number of reasons as to why cost rental housing is consistent with EU SGEI rules.” SGEIs, such as social and affordable housing activities deliver outcomes in the overall public interest that would not be supplied by the market without public intervention. The concept of a service of general economic interest is an evolving notion that depends, among other things, on the needs of citizens, technological and market developments and social and political preferences in the Member State concerned. Irish state support in this area has been recognised as an SGEI in EU law for over twenty years. Author of the report, Professor Padraic Kenna, of the Centre for Housing Law, Rights and Policy NUI Galway, says “An affordable and good-quality home is essential for every person’s well-being and social participation. Reliance on markets has largely failed to ensure adequate and affordable rented housing, even for households in secure and well paid employment. In Ireland, It is widely acknowledged that many private sector rents are unaffordable, except for a small proportion of the population, and this constitutes a market failure. The two elements that are required for a Member State to make lawful use of SGEIs are economic activity and market failure. AHBs should have a key role in delivery and management as it chimes with their non-profit mission; they are managing homes not real estate assets, and there is no conflict between the interests of shareholders and tenants. AHBs are in it for the long-term and there is no leakage of state investment. To ensure that these cost rental homes remain truly affordable, this model must be large-scale and long-term. To protect State investment, safeguards are needed to ensure that these homes don't become part of an offshore fund’s ‘asset portfolio’. Equally, tenant purchase would completely undermine the economic basis of the cost rental model in Ireland.” Dr McManus added, “AHBs are entrusted by local authorities to provide accommodation, which is in line with their non-profit Articles of Association and charitable status. This has been accepted by the European Commission as meeting the criteria for social housing SGEIs. The Affordable Housing Bill 2020 sets out a new legislative basis for cost rental delivery in Ireland. And the Cost Rental Equity Loan (CREL) scheme, announced in Budget 2021, will see the Department make €35 million in loan funding available to Approved Housing Bodies for the purpose of providing cost rental housing. Cost rental schemes, with currently proposed rents of €1,200 per month, will facilitate those in the income deciles who cannot afford to rent in the private market. However, to achieve affordable rents of €1,200 per month requires State Aid. Current cost rental housing plans include 50 units at Enniskerry Road, County Dublin, 306 units at Shanganagh Co. Dublin and a planned cost rental scheme of 400 units at St. Michael’s Estate, Dublin 8. However, in the context of approximately 340,000 private tenancies in Ireland, a multi-annual cost rental delivery programme is required to ensure that this form of tenure is scaled-up to meet the housing affordability needs of Irish households.” Notes Defining Social Housing at EU Level: There is no universally accepted definition of social housing and it is not officially defined across Europe. Two models have been identified, mainly based on the allocation criteria. Universal approaches assume public responsibility for providing everyone with decent, affordable housing, while targeted approaches assume that social housing is only directed to those whose demand is not satisfied by the market. Four general features of social housing can be identified that vary between different national systems: Tenure: Social housing is mainly provided for rent, but in some countries also for sale, intermediate tenure or shared ownership (i.e. to buy                a share and pay a rent for the remainder).Provision: Different providers of social housing exist, ranging from authorities, non-profit associations and companies to cooperatives, for-      profit developers and investors.Beneficiaries: In some countries social housing is directed to all citizens and high income ceilings should guarantee a mix among beneficiaries. In others, it is a targeted service and low income ceilings ensure that only the most vulnerable groups are eligible. Besides income ceilings, other criteria such as housing conditions, homelessness, unhealthy accommodation, over-occupation and forced cohabitation can play a role and prioritise certain target groups such as youths, elderly, disabled persons, families with many children, ethnic minorities or refugees.Funding arrangements: The social housing sector mainly relies on public funds in some countries, while in others on credits raised on the finance market. Different sources are used for social housing projects, ranging from private loans, mortgages and private funds to public grants and loans. In addition, municipalities often contribute by offering land at reduced prices or even for free. Defining Cost Rental Housing: The term ‘cost rental’ has been defined as ‘all rental housing, irrespective of ownership, the rents of which cover only actual incurred costs of a stock of dwellings’. Cost rental housing is based on the principle of ‘maturation’ – i.e. the loans on earlier stock will have reduced over time, or have been paid off, and the costs of new developments can be pooled (cross-subsidised) over the total stock (or particular parts of it), resulting in a small increase in rents overall. The predominant source of finance can be secured through private borrowing, but the equity in (and security of charges on) the overall stock may result in lower borrowing costs. There may also be an element of public subsidy, or State Aid, free or cheap land, public guarantees on borrowing, interest subsidies, and housing benefits for tenants, in order to keep the rent levels at affordable levels. But maturation is the key in facilitating lower pooled rents, which still must cover management and maintenance costs. Interpreting SGEIs: The exceptions to EU rules on competition and other areas which SGEIs enjoy “can apply only if the services in question enjoy, in advance and by legal act, have been attributed a mission of general interest.” It is necessary to make explicit at the national level, that a particular activity is categorised as an SGEI, in order to apply the rules on eligible State Aid. Competition Commissioner Vestager, in 2017, stated that to be an SGEI, “social housing must respond to a public need: the provision of accommodation to disadvantaged citizens or socially less advantaged groups who due to solvency constraints are unable to obtain housing at market conditions. Member States may not define a social housing SGEI so broadly that it manifestly goes beyond responding to this public need.” However she adds, “The scope and organization of SGEIs differ significantly from one Member State to another, depending on the history, the culture of public intervention and the economic and social conditions prevailing in each Member State.” This offers a wider scope for social housing as an SGEI. In the recent 2018 Dutch CJEU case, AHBs in Ireland were defined in terms of SGEI or public service criteria, emphasising the not-for profit element. Defining Housing Affordability: 35% of net household income is a legally defined metric of affordability in the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009. However, affordable rents (at 35% of net income) in average private housing in Dublin in 2019/2020 were out of reach of Income Deciles 1–9. In Galway, those in Income Deciles 1–8 could not afford private sector rents. In the rest of the country, those in Income Deciles 1–7 could not access affordable housing in the private rented sector. Average private sector rents per month are currently not affordable for Income Deciles 1 (Weekly affordable rent at €74.57) to 8 (Weekly affordable rent at €224.62) in Dublin. This demonstrates that there is a significant requirement for increased affordable rental housing to cater for all those excluded from the private rented market. Cost rental housing should clearly target those households who are excluded from the private rented sector, or who cannot access housing at affordable rents, especially those in Income Deciles 4–8. 2019 Average net disposable income per week Weekly affordable rent at 35% net income Income Decile 1 € 213.05 € 74.57 Income Decile 2  € 284.34 € 99.52 Income Decile 3  € 330.51 € 115.68 Income Decile 4  € 374.70 € 131.15 Income Decile 5  € 428.91 € 150.06 Income Decile 6  € 491.00 € 171.85 Income Decile 7  € 556.81 € 194.88 Income Decile 8  € 641.76 € 224.62 Income Decile 9  € 767.18 € 268.51 Income Decile 10  € 1,266.16 € 443.16 Executive Summary available here: Executive Summary Full Report available here: Full Report    

Thursday, 15 April 2021

The School of Law is delighted to announce the academic promotions of three staff members Dr Shivaun Quinlivan, Dr Rónán Kennedy and Professor Padraic Kenna. The academic promotions recognise staff member’s teaching and research excellence. Dr Shivaun Quinlivan promoted to Senior Lecturer ‌Dr Shivaun Quinlivan, Senior Lecturer at the School of Law is the Vice-Dean for Equality Diversity and Inclusion in the College of Business, Public Policy and Law. Her research focuses primarily on the right to equality with a particular focus on the right to education for people with disabilities: see De Beco, G., Quinlivan, S., & Lord, J. (Eds.). (2019). The Right to Inclusive Education in International Human Rights Law (Cambridge University Press). Dr Quinlivan acted as an expert advisor to the States of Guernsey in relation to the development of new multi-ground equality legislation from 2018-2020. In 2016-2017 she was an O’Brien Residential fellow in the Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism in McGill University in Canada.  With Dr Lucy-Ann Buckley she co-leads two inclusive learning projects at NUI Galway: an undergraduate project funded by the NUI Galway Student Project Fund, and a postgraduate project funded by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. Read Dr Shivaun Quinlivan’s full profile   Dr Rónán Kennedy promoted to Senior Lecturer  ‌Dr Rónán Kennedy, Senior Lecturer at the School of Law researches and teaches environmental law, information technology law, and the intersections between these. Rónán is a former member of the Advisory Committee of the Environmental Protection Agency and previously worked as Executive Legal Officer to the Chief Justice of Ireland, Mr Justice Ronan Keane. In 2020 Rónán was awarded a SFI Public Service Fellowship for the research paper “Algorithms, Big Data and Artificial Intelligence in the Irish Legal Services Market”. The research paper examines the availability and growth of “lawtech” in an advisory paper for the Oireachtas Library & Research Service. Other recent publications which he co-authored include 'When is a Plan Not a Plan? The Supreme Court Decision in 'Climate Case Ireland'' and 'De-camouflaging Chameleons: Requiring Transparency for Consumer Protection in the Internet of Things'. Read Dr Rónán Kennedy’s full profile   Professor Padraic Kenna promoted to Personal Professor Professor Padraic Kenna is Director of the Centre for Housing Law, Rights and Policy at the School of Law, NUI Galway. He researches, writes and lectures in housing and property law and policy. Padraic publishes widely in housing, human rights and property law journals and books, providing a critical analysis of contemporary law and policy. He has extensive experience of working in housing development and advocacy in both the statutory and non-governmental sectors.    Padraic’s recent publications on housing and housing rights at Irish and European level include a set of Briefing Papers on ‘Integrating EU Charter Housing Rights into EU Economic Governance and Supervision’ and ‘A Lost Decade - Study on Mortgage Possession Court Lists in Ireland.’ Read Professor Padraic Kenna’s full profile

Monday, 22 February 2021

NUI Galway’s Student Law Society have unveiled their programme of events to mark their 100th Anniversary which takes place from 1-8 March. LawSoc is  one of the oldest and pre-eminent societies in Ireland and fosters unity amongst students, providing them with a social outlet. To mark the centenary, the society are hosting a series of virtual events featuring some of the most respected legal minds in the country. The virtual event over the course of the week will feature guests including: The Honourable Mr Justice Frank Clarke, Chief Justice of Ireland, President of the Supreme Court; Dr Tom Courtney, Author of ‘The Law of Companies’, FE1 Company Law Examiner, and NUI Galway Alumnus; and NUI Galway alumni representatives from A&L Goodbody Solicitors; and Frank Greaney,Courts Correspondent for Newstalk/Today FM, multi-award winning Journalist and NUI Galway Alumnus. On Monday, 8 March, LawSoc marks the end of the Centenary celebrations with a Webinar marking ‘International Women’s Day, with guests Michele O’Boyle,2020 President of the Law Society of Ireland; Maura McNally, Chair of the Bar Council of Ireland; andAnne Marie McMahon, Deputy Commissioner of An Garda Síochána. The event will be moderated by NUI Galway law lecturer, Ursula Connolly. Niamh Lynch, Auditor of the Law Society said; “During such unprecedented times for the world over, I am reminded of the words of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, that “so often in life, things that you regard as an impediment turn out to be great, good fortune. We are delighted to launching our LawSoc100 Centenary Celebrations. We  hope that the celebrations will allow us an opportunity to reflect on the last 100 years of the Law Society, which has grown to become one of the largest societies in NUI Galway, and indeed one of the oldest in the Country. “We also hope that the celebration events will show the adaptability, perseverance and tenacity of the Society in reaching this significant milestone – traits which we aspire to in the present times. The past 100 years have taught us that adaptability and catering to changing times are assets which have become embedded into the values of the Society. Here, at LawSoc, we hope our attempt at embracing persistence throughout these challenging times, will result in good fortune for the society and its members. We stand at such a significant time in history and we intend to reflect that through our recent developments of further expansion into the digital world, examples being from our podcast ‘The Legal Lens with NUI Galway’s Law Society’; to our monthly LawSoc Gazette Newsletters; to these very celebrations. I hope you enjoy the Centenary Celebrations, and that you can join us as we journey the new chapter of our Society’s history.” Patrick McWalter, Vice-Auditor of the Law Society commented: “At the very core of LawSoc’s character is the desire for community, debate, engagement, and kinship – it is for this reason that we are more determined than ever before to ensure that we mark this momentous occasion- given that our community is now physically further apart than ever before. The Law Ball is the highlight of every Law Student’s calendar in NUI GALWAY, and for that reason we will be hosting our online Law Ball – let it never be said that a hidden virus stopped us from marking our Centenary in style. “We, as a society, are honoured to be joined by some of the brightest legal minds in the country for our celebrations, and we know that our members – past and present – will find these events both stimulating and engaging. As we stand at the end point of our first centenary, and as we look towards our next 100 years as a Society, we hope as a Society to proudly carry the baton from the previous ninety-nine committees, and to look towards the hundred years knowing that there is nothing that can weather the desire for citizenship, debate, and most of all, togetherness with our friends, colleagues and members.” President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh commented on the Centenary: “The Society encapsulates what NUI Galway is about – here for our Students, for civic Society, in terms of social justice, human rights and how we maintain good society more generally. The Law Society encapsulates values of respect for each other, excellence, openness and sustainability. The 100th Anniversary is significant in that the Society has sustained the student traditions over the years – a place I remember as one of oratory and  welcome. The Law Society starts a new century now, and in doing so we recognise the importance of law in Society, especially for those most vulnerable in Society who very often need the protection of law.” All events take place online, and registration is essential. Registration is first come first served via Eventbrite. Students are also invited to the Virtual Law Ball, on Friday, 5 March. For more information see NUI Galway Law Society Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn pages. Events include: The Honourable Mr Justice Frank Clarke Chief Justice of Ireland, President of the Supreme Court Monday, 1 March, 5-6pm Free Registration: Dr Tom Courtney Author of ‘The Law of Companies’, FE1 Company Law Examiner, NUI Galway Alumnus. “The Conflicting Interests of Company Directors” Tuesday, 2 March, 5-6pm Free Registration : A&L Goodbody Solicitors, Dublin Brian O'Malley, Partner; Bríd Nic Suibhne, Senior Associate, Employment; Eugenée Mulhern, Senior Adviser, Corporate and M&A; Eoghan Kenny, Senior Manager, Data Projects Back to the Future: How an International Law Firm has evolved over 100 years, and is preparing for the next 100. Wednesday, 3 March, 5-6pm Free Registration: Frank Greaney, Courts Correspondent for Newstalk/Today FM, multi-award winning Journalist and NUI Galway Alumnus. “Media and the Law” Thursday, 4 March, 5-6pm Registration: The Roaring 20’s, at a distance – The Virtual LawSoc Law Ball featuring cocktail making demonstrations, Comedian and MC Tom O’Mahony from Damo & Ivor, Republic of Telly and Irish Pictorial Weekly, Spot Prizes and lots more. Friday, 5 March, 7-9pm Tickets €10 from SocsBox website, (redeemable against your cocktail ingredients). Women in Law : “Celebrating International Women’s Day” Michele O’Boyle 2020 President of the Law Society of Ireland, Maura McNally (Chair of the Bar Council of Ireland) and Anne Marie McMahon, Deputy Commissioner of An Garda Síochána Moderated by Ursula Connolly, School of Law, NUI Galway. Monday, 8 March 2020, 5-6pm Registration coming Galway-lawsoc-celebrates-international-womens-day-tickets-142226387955 -Ends-.

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

NUI Galway academic examines use of software, tech and AI in justice system as part of SFI Public Service Fellowship The rapid development and increased use of software and technology for legal services and in the courts could reduce costs and improve access to justice but deepen the digital divide and strengthen existing biases in the justice system, research from NUI Galway has cautioned. Dr Rónán Kennedy, lecturer in the University’s School of Law, examined the availability and growth of “lawtech” in an advisory paper for the Oireachtas Library & Research Service. Dr Kennedy was awarded a Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Public Service Fellowship to carry out the research as part of the Spotlight series, which gives TDs and Senators in-depth briefings on a single policy issue or topic.  The research paper “Algorithms, Big Data and Artificial Intelligence in the Irish Legal Services Market”, outlined the pros and cons of increased use of software and technology in the legal sector. Dr Kennedy said: “Lawtech has been part of a wave of change and innovation in the legal services market, globally and in Ireland. It could save consumers and businesses money and time, and be a sector for economic growth.  “However, it is not a silver bullet to solve the problem of access to justice. As Artificial Intelligence (AI) is used more by lawyers and courts, it could lead to fairer outcomes or repeat existing biases.” The research paper noted: Lawtech could reduce costs and provide better access to justice by making it easier for lawyers to create standard documents or allowing people to access legal information and advice online, including through automated apps. It could worsen the digital divide in society and solidify existing biases in the legal system, by preventing those without IT skills from accessing legal services or by relying on historical data which is prejudiced. Areas for immediate legislative intervention include expansion of the validity of digital signatures for uses such as wills or legal proceedings, and the admissibility of digital recordings in court. Members of the Oireachtas could consider longer-term policy questions, such as whether AI professions should be regulated or how to manage the use of AI by lawyers and judges. The Oireachtas and Government may need to explore whether some legislation should be “born digital”’ - written both in a human language and computer language from the outset. Dr Kennedy’s research noted that AI software programs may also “learn” to discriminate in ways that are illegal, focusing on characteristics that are proxies for social class, race or gender such as home address or height. “It is unlikely that AI can or will ever replace humans, but it may allow faster, cheaper, and fairer judging. However, if this software is not carefully designed, it could make prejudice even more difficult to remove from the justice system,” he said.  Dr Kennedy said: “The paper explores technology which is already bringing about significant transformation in legal practice and in the courts, and may change it radically in the future. “The SFI Public Interest Fellowship provided a very interesting opportunity to learn more about how the Oireachtas operates, the important work of legislators, and how researchers can contribute to the development of policy.  “My findings raise important questions that lawmakers and everyone involved in legal services should consider. The pandemic has shown how useful technology can be, but we need to have a debate about how we manage tools like remote court hearings and AI assistants for lawyers and judges to ensure that all of the impacts are positive.” The Spotlight paper, published by the Oireachtas Library and Research Service, is available to read at  Dr Kennedy’s publication emanated from research supported in part by a research grant from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) under Grant Number 19/PSF/7665. He is one of six researchers seconded to the Houses of the Oireachtas Library & Research Services as part of the SFI public service fellowship programme. 

Friday, 18 December 2020

TrialWatch Fairness Report Shows Flaws in Indonesia’s Blasphemy Law Courts’ Treatment of Individuals with Disabilities Dr Charles O’Mahony, Head of the School of Law at NUI Galway, is a member of Clooney Foundation for Justice’s TrialWatch ‘experts panel’. He has authored a report for the TrialWatch initiative, which was published today.  The press release and full report are available here. The TrialWatch Fairness Report written by Dr O’Mahony found that Indonesia’s prosecution of Suzethe Margaret earlier this year for blasphemy violated the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  Ms Margaret is a woman who experiences psychosocial disability who was prosecuted for blasphemy as a result of entering a Mosque, carrying a dog, wearing shoes and having an altercation with the Mosque’s caretaker while she was unwell.  The report concludes that Indonesia’s blasphemy law permits convictions “on the basis of ‘subjective feelings of offensiveness’” and is inconsistent with the rights to freedom of expression and religion, as well as with non-discrimination norms.  TrialWatch experts assign a grade of A, B, C, D, or F to the trial reflecting their view of whether and the extent to which the trial complied with relevant international human rights law.  Dr. O’Mahony gave the proceedings a grade of “C.”  This trial took place against the backdrop of efforts to expand Indonesia’s blasphemy law and this is not the first time the law has been used to prosecute persons who experience psychosocial disability in Indonesia. In his assessment of the trial, Dr. O’Mahony said: “While I welcome the fact that Ms. Margaret was not convicted, the court’s failure to adequately assess the supports Ms. Margaret needed and the absence of reasonable accommodations made her a spectator at her own trial. Indonesia needs to do more to ensure those involved with the criminal justice system are trained to provide equal access to justice for persons with disabilities.” The Clooney Foundation for Justice now call on the Indonesian government to repeal its blasphemy law; it further calls on Indonesia to take the steps necessary to ensure respect for the rights of persons with disabilities in line with its obligations under the UN Convention in the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Clooney Foundation for Justice's TrialWatch initiative monitors and grades the fairness of trials of vulnerable people around the world, including journalists, women and girls, religious minorities, LGBTQ persons, and human rights defenders. Using this data, TrialWatch advocates for victims and is developing a Global Justice Ranking measuring national courts’ compliance with international human rights standards.

Wednesday, 16 December 2020

Chief Justice Dr Mathilda Twomey, who has recently been appointed Adjunct Professor at NUI Galway’s School of Law, has been awarded the Franco-German Prize for Human Rights. Chief Justice Twomey is one of 15 people to receive this prestigious annual award which marks Human Rights Day and recognises the efforts of all those who work endlessly to advance the causes of human rights and the rule of law. The award commends Chief Justice Twomey’s work in the protection of minors. Earlier this year, Chief Justice Twomey was appointed as Chairperson of the Child Law Reform Committee. In this role she has led the committee’s work in identifying and reviewing the laws of Seychelles to prevent and punish child abuse, sexual abuse and exploitation.  This work seeks to strengthen the legal protection offered to children in accordance with the Constitution of Seychelles, and with international and regional human rights law. Chief Justice Dr Mathilda Twomey said: “I am humbled by the award. I head a small group of women who have more than me worked tirelessly to bring reform to the law regarding the abuse of children in its multifarious forms. They are the unsung and unseen heroes.  It is to them that I offer this award.   However, I will use this prize and my platform to continue to champion the rights of the most vulnerable persons in society.” Dr Charles O’Mahony, Head of the School of Law at NUI Galway, said: “We are delighted to see the Chief Justice Twomey receive this prestigious award for her work on promoting the human rights of children.  This recognises a lifetime of public service and advocacy promoting and defending human rights and the rule of law. Chief Justice Twomey is joining NUI Galway as an Adjunct Professor in Law and we are looking forward to her contribution to teaching and research in the School of Law and the Irish Centre for Human Rights.” Chief Justice Twomey was the first female judge in the history of the Seychelles. As a member of the Constitutional Commission, she helped draft the country’s new constitution between 1992 and 1993. She also served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Seychelles from August 2015 to September 2020.  She is an alumna of NUI Galway’s School of Law having completed both an LLM and a PhD. She received both a James Hardiman Scholarship from NUI Galway and an Irish Research Council Scholarship, by the Government of Ireland to support her PhD entitled ‘Legal métissage in a micro jurisdiction: the mixing of Common Law and Civil Law in Seychelles’. In 2016 NUI Galway awarded Chief Justice Twomey an Alumni Award for Law, Public Policy and Government in recognition of her contribution to scholarship and her significant achievements throughout her distinguished career. Professor Siobhán Mullally, Director of NUI Galway’s Irish Centre for Human Rights, said: “Congratulations to Chief Justice Twomey on this award, which recognises her enormous contribution in the promotion and protection of child rights and human rights. Throughout her career, in the judiciary, the legal profession and in academia, Chief Justice Twomey has worked tirelessly to promote access to justice, accountability for human rights abuses, and women’s empowerment. We are delighted that our students and colleagues will have the opportunity to benefit from her immense experience, expertise and deep commitment to human rights.” -Ends-

Friday, 11 December 2020

Model emergency housing legislation addresses rented and mortgaged housing, migrant and refugee housing, housing for people with disabilities and those facing homelessness Dr Padraic Kenna from the School of Law in NUI Galway, has drafted Model Emergency Housing Legislation on housing rights with the Open Society Justice Initiative in New York, and international housing rights experts. The Model Emergency Housing Legislation is based on existing laws around the world, but builds on these to include housing rights for all. It can be used by human rights advocates and legislators to integrate the universally recognised right to housing into a binding national law.   To coincide with the release of the model legislation, the launch of a new report ‘Protecting the Right to Housing during the COVID-19 Crisis’ examines the measures taken by countries across the world in relation to housing during the pandemic. In March 2020, Ireland took immediate action to deal with the risk to human life and public health posed by COVID-19. Emergency legislation to prevent the spread of the disease and mitigate its adverse economic consequences included a rent freeze and a ban on evictions. Guidance for protecting homeless and vulnerable groups was issued in April. In line with European Banking Authority Guidelines, mortgage lenders in Ireland vowed to defer legal proceedings and repossessions against borrowers in default, and to extend payment holidays to homeowners hit by the pandemic. While medical advances will now, hopefully, protect people from the disease, it is generally accepted that the adverse economic consequences of COVID-19 will continue for some time. Just as there has been amazing progress in medicine, now is also the time to make progress in developing housing rights. Emergency measures on housing rights must be extended and developed to ensure the right to adequate housing for all. Dr Padraic Kenna, Senior Lecturer in Law, and Director of the Centre for Housing Law, Rights and Policy at the School of Law, NUI Galway, said: “Many countries have implemented legislation to prevent evictions and rent rises during the COVID-19 pandemic. We now need to build on those housing rights protections in the context of the economic consequences of the pandemic. “This model emergency housing legislation addresses rented and mortgaged housing, but also housing rights protection for people in informal and temporary settlements, migrant and refugee housing, housing for people with disabilities and those facing homelessness. These are often the people who are most vulnerable to contracting COVID-19 due to poor sanitation and overcrowding.” Marguerite Angelari, J.D., Senior Legal Officer with the Open Society Justice Initiative, involved in the drafting of the model legislation, said: “Governments must now take a comprehensive legislative approach to protecting the right to housing until the public health and economic crisis caused by COVID-19 is over. We hope this model legislation will act as a catalyst for the acceptance of comprehensive legislation to ensure the right to housing is protected.” Economic hardship, globally, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted housing for millions around the world, accelerating homelessness, evictions, and the loss of home ownership. Even before the pandemic, approximately 1.8 billion people globally lived in what international bodies characterised as “grossly inadequate” housing conditions and homelessness. Adequate housing is a key factor affecting a person’s likelihood of being severely impacted by COVID-19, including their ability to socially distance and access clean water and sanitation. Leilani Farha, Global Director for The Shift, former UN Special Rapporteur on the right to housing, and 2020 Open Society Foundations Fellow, said: “COVID-19 has laid bare the global housing crisis. The proliferation of homelessness, and inadequate, overcrowded, and unaffordable housing is the result of governments having prioritized housing as a means for financial investors to generate profit rather than treating it as a basic necessity and a human right. Governments must ensure domestic legislation protects housing as a human right in a manner consistent with their international human rights obligations.” The Model Emergency Housing Legislation is available here: To read the report ‘Protecting the Right to Housing during the COVID-19 Crisis’ is available here: For more about the Open Society Justice Initiative, visit:

Thursday, 3 December 2020

Advocate General of the European Court of Justice, the Hon. Mr. Justice Gerard Hogan, delivered NUI Galway’s School of Law Annual Distinguished Lecture 2020 on  Thursday, 3 December. During his lecture, “Re-examining McGee, Norris and the X case”, Mr. Justice Gerard Hogan discussed and reflected upon these seminal Irish constitutional law cases and recent constitutional reform. A full recording of the event, held virtually over Zoom can be watched back on Youtube: The full text of the lecture: Annual Distinguished Lecture 2020 The School of Law Annual Distinguished Lecture was chaired by Professor Siobhán Mullally, Director of NUI Galway’s Irish Centre for Human Rights and UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children. Dr Charles O’Mahony, Head of the School of Law at NUI Galway, said: “The School of Law Annual Distinguished Lecture plays an important role in further enriching our students’ learning experience. There are many important lessons to be learned in this year’s lecture “Re-examining McGee, Norris and the X case” including an opportunity to re-consider these important judgments from a comparative, legal and social perspective.” The Hon. Mr. Justice Gerard Hogan is a renowned legal scholar and has served as Advocate General of the European Court of Justice since 2018. Previously Mr. Justice Hogan was a former Judge of the Court of Appeal and the High Court of Ireland. Now in its tenth year, previous speakers of the Lecture have included: Professor Christopher McCrudden of Oxford University; Judge John T. Noonan of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit; Professor Neil Walker of Edinburgh University; Baroness Brenda Hale of the UK Supreme Court with Mrs. Justice Catherine McGuinness of the Irish Supreme Court; Mr Justice Nial Fennelly of the Irish Supreme Court; Sir Declan Morgan, the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland; Judge Síofra O'Leary of the European Court of Human Rights; and Justice Leona Theron of the Constitutional Court of South Africa.

Tuesday, 1 December 2020

Dr. Róisín Mulgrew was invited by the Academy of European Law to host a session during their online conference on 'The European Prison Rules as a Standard Setter for European Prison Conditions'. Dr. Mulgrew delivered a seminar on 'The Council of Europe's 2012 Recommendation concerning foreign prisoners: the need for specialised standards and challenges in implementation' on 30th November. This professional development course was attended by judges, prosecutors, lawyers, prison and probation staff, as officials from human rights oversight departments from EU Member States.

Tuesday, 10 November 2020

Global law firm DLA Piper has today announced the launch of the Terence O’Malley DLA Piper Scholarship in partnership with NUI Galway School of Law. The new scholarship, which is named after Terry O’Malley, Chairman Emeritus (US), will provide funding and support to students in financial need studying in the University’s award-winning School of Law. As well as the scholarship, which will provide support to successful students over the course of their degree, a separate annual Terence O’Malley DLA Piper bursary will be awarded to the student achieving the highest grade in the University’s new Law and Innovation module. As part of the partnership, Mr. O’Malley, who has family roots in the West of Ireland, will also host an annual lecture with law students at the University. Commenting on the announcement, Terry O’Malley, Chairman Emeritus, DLA Piper said: “Ireland holds a special place in my heart, and I am delighted to be associated with this awards programme. I look forward to helping develop this programme in the coming years.” David Carthy, Country Managing Partner Ireland, DLA Piper said: “NUI Galway’s School of Law is ranked 85th in the world for Law in the 2021 Times Higher Education World University Rankings by Subject,  and we are proud to partner with the school to support deserving students as they pursue their studies in law. At DLA Piper, we pride ourselves in being an innovative law firm, committed to embracing technology and adapting to meet the needs of global business. We look forward to seeing what innovative thinking the recipients of the annual Terence O’Malley DLA Piper bursary contribute to the industry in the future and we wish all of the students the very best in their studies.” Dr Charles O’Mahony, Head of the School of Law, NUI Galway added: “We are delighted to announce this exciting partnership with DLA Piper, who are recognised as one of the most innovative global law firms. We are very proud of our law students and greatly welcome this scholarship scheme and prize funded by DLA Piper, which will support students in reaching their full potential.” Applications for the scholarship are now open and further details of the scholarship are available at

Thursday, 5 November 2020

The School of Law is pleased to announce that The Hon. Mr. Justice Gerard Hogan, Advocate General of the European Court of Justice, will give the 2020 Annual Distinguished Lecture in Law at 6pm on Thursday the 3rd of December.  This will be a virtual event. The title of the lecture will be “Re-examining McGee, Norris and the X case”.  We have reached the maximum that Zoom can cater for. The event is free to watch the event live on Facebook at: This will be our 10th Annual Distinguished Lecture. Previous speakers include: Professor Christopher McCrudden of Oxford University, Judge John T. Noonan of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Professor Neil Walker of Edinburgh University, Baroness Brenda Hale of the UK Supreme Court with Mrs. Justice Catherine McGuinness of the Irish Supreme Court, Mr. Justice Nial Fennelly of the Irish Supreme Court, Sir Declan Morgan, the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland, Judge Síofra O’Leary of the European Court of Human Rights and Justice Leona Theron of the Constitutional Court of South Africa.

Tuesday, 3 November 2020

The project will facilitate and enhance the digital skills and competences of those working in housing and property, real estate, and associated activities across Europe. NUI Galway's Centre for Housing Law, Rights and Policy (CHLRP) has been successful in its bid for an EU ERASMUS+ funding award of €500,000 with five European partners. Over three years, the project will design and create an international online course for housing and property professionals in the public and private sectors. The modules, materials and learning tools will include PROPTECH – a term which includes blockchain, smart contracts, as well as online transactions and platforms for housing, property and real estate exchange and management. These will enhance digital skills and competences, and produce a skills management tool for housing and real estate operations, based on a mobile micro-learning platform. One part focusses on developing learning tools for professionals managing apartments/condominiums. Dr Padraic Kenna, Director of the Centre for Housing Law, Rights and Policy at NUI Galway,, said: "This award recognises the European perspective of our work at NUI Galway, and makes our expertise and knowledge of housing and property issues available to an EU-wide audience. Our European and Irish housing and property law expertise at NUI Galway was integral to the successful €500,000 bid. The project will develop state of the art online learning tools to enhance learner engagement, motivation and participation. The ultimate training will be available for professionals involved in the housing, property and real estate fields, as well as policymakers." ERASMUS+ is the EU's programme to support education, training, youth and sport. With a budget of €14.7 billion for 2014-2020 it provides opportunities for over four million participants to study, train, gain experience, and volunteer abroad. In addition to offering grants, Erasmus+ also supports teaching, research, networking and policy debate on EU topics. The European partners in this project with NUI Galway are UNESCO Housing Chair (Spain), University of Silesia (Poland), Union Internationale de la Propriete Immobiliere (Belgium), Infrachain, a.s.b.l. (Luxembourg) and Fundacion Iberioamericana del Conocimiento (Spain). Recently, the Centre for Housing Law, Rights and Policy published a set of Briefing Papers on integrating housing rights into the EU economic governance framework. This is available at

Wednesday, 28 October 2020

NUI Galway School of Law has been ranked as 85th in the world for Law in the 2021 Times Higher Education World University Rankings by Subject. Times Higher Education’s (THE) annual World Subject Rankings cover 11 subject areas, giving an overview of the best places in the world to study a chosen discipline. This ranking for NUI Galway School of Law recognises the School’s innovative approach to teaching law and high quality legal research. In recent years the School has responded to the changing employment market by introducing new programmes and making significant changes to its existing programmes. These changes ensure graduates acquire practical and academic skills to adapt to an ever changing world. The School’s excellence in research is driven by academics within the School and its internationally renowned research centres, Irish Centre for Human Rights, Centre for Disability Law and Policy and Centre for Housing Law, Rights & Policy. Dr Charles O’Mahony, Head of the School of Law, said: “This ranking recognises our commitment to delivering world class teaching and research excellence that informs national and international law reform and public policy development. Colleagues across the School make outstanding contributions through their teaching, guided with the aspiration of creating a better society.” Professor Siobhán Mullally, Director of NUI Galway’s Irish Centre for Human Rights, said: “NUI Galway is a world class Law School. Dynamic and engaged, international in its outlook and in all aspects of its teaching, research and policy impact, the School of Law is a wonderful place to study, teach and research law.” View the full list of 2021 Times Higher Education World University Rankings by Subject

Thursday, 22 October 2020

Dr Rónán Kennedy lecturer at NUI Galway School of Law has been awarded an SFI Public Service Fellowship for his project “Algorithms, Big Data and Artificial Intelligence in the Irish Legal Services Market”. The project which is hosted by Oireachtas Research & Library Services will examine how information technology is enabling new approaches to legal practice and the work of courts, and how Irish law should respond to the rapid innovation that is taking place. AI-based tools could reduce legal costs and make it easier for individuals to get better-quality legal advice where and when they need it. However, they could also lead to smaller firms being left behind, and the use of AI to assist with judicial decision-making (as already happens in other countries) could take control away from judges and strengthen existing social biases and prejudices. Dr Kennedy said, “This fellowship provides an opportunity to see how the Oireachtas works, and how legislation is written. It will give the Oireachtas a better understanding of the social implications of innovations in science and technology, and will help academics working in those fields to communicate their research in a way that helps legislators develop better policy for very important topics.” Dr Rónán Kennedy is one of 12 researchers who were awarded a SFI Public Service Fellowship today. The SFI Public Service Fellowships were announched by Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris, TD, see full details here. 

Friday, 4 September 2020

Dr Brian Tobin of the School of Law presented a Family Law paper at the Society of Legal Scholars' first virtual conference today (4 September 2020).  Dr Tobin's paper, 'The (D)evolving Nature of Guardianship Rights for Unmarried Fathers under Irish Law?' was presented in the Family Law stream of #SLSVirtual20 and it will be published in the September edition of Child and Family Law Quarterly. Dr Tobin's paper can be viewed on the School of Law YouTube channel at 

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

The University has also announced the appointment of four new Adjunct Professors NUI Galway’s School of Law have announced details of a new postgraduate two year Bachelor of Laws (LLB) which will allow students to fast track to a career in law. The School of Law has also introduced an Irish-Language Stream for undergraduate law students and appointed four Adjunct Professors. The new course offerings and Adjunct Professors will further enhance the School’s innovative approach to teaching law, ensuring graduates acquire the practical and academic skills to adapt to an ever changing world.   The two year LLB is a full law degree, open to graduates from any discipline. It provides an excellent basis for work in legal practice, administration, business, government, the media, and many other areas. Speaking about the launch of the new course, Dr Rónán Kennedy, Programme Director of the LLB, said: “The LLB is an excellent conversion course for those who want to enhance their existing career, transfer to a career in law or develop their knowledge of the law for personal reasons. It provides a rapid route towards training for the legal professions in Ireland, offering all the subjects currently required for the solicitor and barrister entrance examinations in Ireland.” The new Irish-Language Stream has been developed in response to the demand for Irish Lawyer Linguists and is an optional stream available on the School’s undergraduate courses. The stream will allow students to develop their Irish-language skills throughout their four year full law degree with Legal Irish modules. In year three students will spend one semester studying at NUI Galway’s Gaeltacht campus in An Cheathrú Rua and one semester of professional work placement in an Irish-speaking legal environment.​ Dr Charles O’Mahony, Head of the School of Law, said: “It is the ideal qualification for students who want to build a career in law and open up a range of exciting job opportunities working through the Irish language. There are fantastic job opportunities for Irish Lawyer Linguists in the Institutions of the European Union.” The appointment of four new Adjunct Professors will give the School’s students further access to academic staff who are nationally and internationally recognised experts in their professions. The appointments include:   Mr Justice Peter Charleton, Judge of the Supreme Court, who has been appointed Adjunct Professor in conjunction with the School’s undergraduate course Law (BCL) Criminology and Criminal Justice. Professor Brendan Edgeworth, a Professor at University of New South Wales Law School and a distinguished property and housing law expert. Professor Edgeworth has been appointed as Adjunct Professor at the School of Law in connection with the School’s Centre for Housing Law, Rights and Policy Research. Professor Dr Guénaël Mettraux, Judge of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers and Member of the European Union's Human Rights Review Panel, and now Adjunct Professor (International Criminal Law and International Humanitarian Law) at the School’s Irish Centre for Human Rights. Emily Logan, first Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and Ireland’s first Ombudsman for Children - appointed Adjunct Professor (Human Rights Practice) at the School’s Irish Centre for Human Rights. Newly appointed Adjunct Professor, Mr. Justice Peter Charleton said: “I'm delighted to be invited to assist in teaching in NUI Galway, a centre of excellence in legal education and a pioneer in the study of human rights law and of criminology in Ireland.” Professor Siobhán Mullally, Director of NUI Galway’s Irish Centre for Human Rights, said: “Guénaël Mettraux is a leading expert and practicing international lawyer who has acted as Counsel before a variety of international criminal tribunals. His appointment and extensive international practice experience will contribute greatly to our LLM and PhD programmes in international criminal justice and humanitarian law. “Emily Logan’s appointment builds on our commitment to supporting skills and practice based learning for students on our international human rights law programmes. Students will have the opportunity to work with a leading human rights advocate, former Chair of the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions, Ireland’s first Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and first Ombudsman for Children.” For more information about NUI Galway School of Law’s new two year LLB commencing this September, the Irish-Language Stream and Adjunct Professors visit -Ends-

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Tá ceapachán ceathrar Ollúna Taca fógartha ag an Ollscoil chomh maith D'fhógair Scoil an Dlí, OÉ Gaillimh sonraí faoi Bhaitsiléir Dlíthe (LLB) nua iarchéime a mhairfidh dhá bhliain agus a thabharfaidh deis do mhic léinn dlús a chur lena ngairm le dlí. Tá Sruth Gaeilge tugtha isteach ag Scoil an Dlí do mhic léinn dlí fochéime agus tá ceathrar Ollúna Taca ceaptha freisin. Cuirfidh na cúrsaí nua agus na hOllúna Taca le cur chuige nuálach na Scoile i leith theagasc an dlí, rud a chinnteoidh go sealbhóidh céimithe na scileanna praiticiúla agus acadúla le dul i ngleic le saol atá ag síorathrú.   Is céim iomlán dlí é an LLB dhá bhliain, atá oscailte do chéimithe ó réimse ar bith.  Soláthraíonn sé bunús iontach le tabhairt faoi obair i réimsí an chleachtais dlí, an riarachán, an gnó, obair in eagraíochtaí rialtais, na meáin agus réimsí go leor eile. Ag trácht ar sheoladh an chúrsa nua, bhí an méid seo a leanas le rá ag an Dr Rónán Kennedy, Stiúrthóir Cláir an LLB: “Is cúrsa tiontaithe iontach é an LLB dóibh siúd ar mhian leo cur lena ngairm reatha, aistriú go gairm le dlí nó forbairt a dhéanamh ar an eolas atá acu ar an dlí ar údair phearsanta. Cuireann sé bealach gasta ar fáil i dtreo oiliúint sna gairmeacha dlí in Éirinn, agus na hábhair uile atá riachtanach do scrúduithe iontrála an dlíodóra agus an abhcóide in Éirinn á dtairiscint ann.” Forbraíodh an Sruth nua Gaeilge mar fhreagra ar an éileamh atá ar Dhlítheangeolaithe le Gaeilge agus is sruth roghnach é atá ar fáil ar chúrsaí fochéime na Scoile. Tabharfaidh an Sruth Gaeilge deis do mhic léinn a gcuid scileanna Gaeilge a fhorbairt agus iad i mbun céim iomlán ceithre bliana sa dlí. Sa tríú bliain, caithfidh mic léinn seimeastar amháin ag staidéar ar champas Gaeltachta OÉ Gaillimh ar an gCeathrú Rua agus seimeastar eile ar shocrúchán oibre gairmiúil i dtimpeallacht dlí ina labhraítear Gaeilge. Deir an Dr Charles O’Mahony, Ceann Scoil an Dlí: “Is í seo an cháilíocht is fearr do mhic léinn atá ag iarraidh gairm a mhúnlú dóibh féin sa dlí agus raon deiseanna fostaíochta spreagúla a bheith ar fáil dóibh sa Ghaeilge. Tá deiseanna fostaíochta iontacha ar fáil freisin do Dhlítheangeolaithe in Institiúidí an Aontais Eorpaigh.” Tabharfaidh ceapachán ceathrar Ollúna Taca nua rochtain bhreise do mhic léinn na Scoile ar fhoireann acadúil a aithnítear go hidirnáisiúnta agus go náisiúnta mar shaineolaithe ina gcuid gairmeacha. I measc na gceapachán tá:  An Breitheamh Onórach Peter Charleton, Breitheamh den Chúirt Uachtarach, a ceapadh ina Ollamh Taca ar chúrsa fochéime na Scoile sa Dlí, Coireolaíocht agus Ceartas Coiriúil. An tOllamh Brendan Edgeworth, Ollamh i Scoil Dlí Ollscoil New South Wales agus saineolaí iomráiteach ar dhlí réadmhaoine agus tithíochta. Ceapadh an tOllamh Edgeworth ina Ollamh Taca i Scoil an Dlí agus beidh sé ag obair go príomha san Ionad Taighde do Dhlí, Cearta agus Polasaí Tithíochta. An Dr Guénaël Mettraux, Breitheamh Shain-Dlísheomraí na Cosaive agus Ball de Phainéal Athbhreithnithe an Aontais Eorpaigh um Chearta an Duine, agus Ollamh Taca (Dlí Coirpeach Idirnáisiúnta agus Dlí Daonnúil Idirnáisiúnta) in Ionad na hÉireann do Chearta an Duine anois. Emily Logan, an chéad Phríomh-Choimisinéir ar Choimisiún na hÉireann um Chearta an Duine agus Comhionannas agus an chéad Ombudsman do Leanaí in Éirinn - ceaptha mar Ollamh Comhghafach (Cleachtas um Chearta an Duine) ag Ionad na hÉireann um Chearta an Duine. Deir an tOllamh Taca nuacheaptha, an Breitheamh Onórach Peter Charleton: “Tá lúcháir orm cuireadh a fháil chun tacú leis an teagasc in OÉ Gaillimh, atá mar ionad barr feabhais in oideachas an dlí agus ceannródaí i léann an dlí i leith chearta an duine agus léann na coireolaíochta in Éirinn. Deir an tOllamh Siobhán Mullally, Stiúrthóir Ionad na hÉireann do Chearta an Duine in OÉ Gaillimh: “Is príomhshaineolaí agus dlíodóir idirnáisiúnta atá ag cleachtadh a ghairme é Guénaël Mettraux a bhí ina Abhcóide os comhair réimse éagsúil binsí coiriúla idirnáisiúnta. Cuirfidh a cheapachán agus a thaithí fhairsing ar chleachtas idirnáisiúnta go mór lenár gcláir LLM agus PhD sa Cheartas Coiriúil Idirnáisiúnta agus sa Dlí Daonnúil. “Cuireann ceapachán Emily Logan lenár dtiomantas tacú le scileanna agus le foghlaim chleachtas-bhunaithe do mhic léinn ar ár gcláir i nDlí Idirnáisiúnta Chearta an Duine. Beidh deis ag mic léinn oibriú le príomhurlabhraí chearta an duine, iarChathaoirleach Líonra Eorpach na nInstitiúidí Náisiúnta um Chearta an Duine, an chéad Phríomhchoimisinéir ar Choimisiún na hÉireann um Chearta an Duine agus Comhionannas agus an chéad Ombudsman do Leanaí in Éirinn.” Le tuilleadh eolais a fháil faoin LLB nua dhá bhliain i Scoil an Dlí, OÉ Gaillimh atá le tosú i mí Mheán Fómhair, faoin Sruth Gaeilge agus faoi na hOllúna Taca téigh chuig -Críoch-

Friday, 5 June 2020

We are delighted to announce the appointment of Ms Emily Logan, Adjunct Professor to the Irish Centre for Human Rights. Commenting on her appointment, Ms Logan said: "With such a strong global reputation for excellence in the field of human rights teaching, research and advocacy, it is indeed a great honour to join the Irish Centre for Human Rights". Emily Logan previously served as Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, appointed by President Michael D. Higgins, from 2014 to 2019. The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, a fifteen member Commission, is Ireland’s national human rights institution and national equality body, accounts to the Oireachtas (Irish Parliament) and is accredited by the United Nations as an ‘A’ status institution. In October 2018, she was nominated by her peers across Council of Europe member states as Chair of the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions. Prior to this, she served as Ireland’s first Ombudsman for Children from 2003 to 2014, appointed by President McAleese and accounting to the Oireachtas (Irish parliament). In 2008 she was nominated by her peers to the position of President of the European Network of Ombudsmen for Children. Emily’s contribution to the rights of the children of Ireland, in particular children without parental guardianship, children in the care of the State, separated children or those deprived of their liberty, is widely acknowledged. She has for many years appeared in multiple national and international fora, including before the Oireachtas for sixteen years and regionally and internationally at the Council of Europe and across all United Nations Treaty-based bodies, UN Charter-based bodies and engaging with Special Procedures mandate holders.

Monday, 11 May 2020

Academic staff in the School of Law have contributed research papers, newspaper articles and other contributions to public discourse in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.  Dr Rónán Kennedy, 'Contact Tracing and Data Protection', Obiter Dicta podcast (May 2020) Prof Ray Murphy, 'Respect for human rights must be central to our response to Covid-19', Sunday Business Post (May 2020) Dr Shane Darcy, 'Human rights due diligence for business: elements and developments', Business & Human Rights in Ireland Blog (May 2020) Dr Padraic Kenna, 'This time it IS different: Covid-19 and the renewal of housing rights', Progressive Economy @ TASC (May 2020)  Dr Rónán Kennedy, 'Data Protection and COVID-19: Short-Term Priorities, Long-Term Consequences', Bloomsbury Professional (May 2020) Dr Padraic Kenna, 'If we are to create a just society after COVID-19, we need to talk about property rights', openDemocracy (May 2020) Dr Conor Hanly and Dr Rónán Kennedy, 'Is it possible to have a socially distant trial by jury?', RTÉ Brainstorm (May 2020) Tom O'Malley, 'Can jury trial be waived?', Sentencing, Crime and Justice Blog (May 2020) Dr John Danaher, 'Will COVID-19 Spark a Moral Revolution? Eight Possibilities', Philosophical Disquisitions Blog (April 2020) Dr Padraic Kenna, 'This time it will be different?' Centre for Housing Law, Rights and Policy (April 2020) Dr Rónán Kennedy, 'Why have Irish courts been slow to move online during the crisis?', RTÉ Brainstorm (April 2020) Dr Padraic Kenna, 'Could the Kenny Report solve the Irish housing crisis?', RTÉ Brainstorm (March 2020) Dr John Danaher also has a series of podcasts on various aspects of COVID-19 on matters such as surveillance and privacy, ethical contexts, healthcare prioritisation and how to understand COVID-19. 

Monday, 18 May 2020

Report shines a light on a ‘lost decade’ of mortgage possessions and warns that Covid-19 could result in a new round of arrears A major research report confirms, for the first time, that almost half of the mortgage possession cases listed before the courts are being pursued by “household name” banks, which are directly supervised by the European Central Bank. The research, A Lost Decade – Study on Mortgage Possession Court Lists in Ireland, was carried out by Dr Padraic Kenna, Director of the Centre for Housing Law, Rights and Policy at NUI Galway. The report examined some 12,650 mortgage possession cases between April and December 2019, and provides a detailed breakdown of the financial institutions seeking possession of homes. The ECB ‘significant’ supervised entities accounting for 46% of the listed cases in the study period are AIB (and its subsidiaries), Bank of Ireland, Ulster Bank and KBC. The report also reveals that one in every five mortgage cases over that period was being pursued by Permanent TSB, which is 75% owned by the Minister for Finance of Ireland and is supervised by the Central Bank of Ireland. So-called vulture funds, or non-bank mortgage entities and retail credit firms, were taking one third of cases before the Irish courts over that period. Dr Kenna warned that Covid-19 could result in a new round of mortgage arrears and that many of the challenges of the last decade could re-emerge: “It is important not to repeat the mistakes of the past and I would recommended that those facing mortgage payment problems post Covid 19 should be able to avail of the State mediation, personal insolvency and new legislation in 2019 which obliges courts to carry out proportionality assessments.” His research confirmed that women have been particularly vulnerable to the actions of financial entities. “One of the most glaring findings of this research is the absence of a gender dimension in State reports on the issue. Women as the majority of single-parents, with responsibility for children and often most relying on State supports, are more heavily impacted by these actions of financial entities. Yet, despite legal obligations on equality, no State agency, including the Central Bank of Ireland, addresses gender in its reports”, explained Dr Kenna. The research finds that only one quarter of borrowers at risk of losing their homes had any listed legal representation. Some 7% represented themselves. In contrast, financial institutions were almost always legally represented, with just 10 legal firms accounting for 70% of the possession proceedings on behalf of financial entities. The report confirms that the numbers of possession orders being granted is reducing year on year, since 2015. Continuing the pattern over the years, for every two orders granted, three are not granted by the courts, for a variety of reasons. Most cases were dealt with by the County Registrar rather than the Judge in Circuit Courts. The highest proportion of cases were located in the South East (19% of cases) and Midland (18% of cases) Circuits. The full report, A Lost Decade – Study on Mortgage Possession Court Lists in Ireland, is available here: A-Lost-Decade---Report-on-Mortgage-Possession-Cases-in-Ireland- For more information please contact Dr Padraic Kenna at 0864176484 or, or Sheila Gorham, Marketing and Communications, NUI Galway, at Note to editors: The research is based on a sample of 12,650 cases, between April and December 2019, comprising 8,505 (67%) on County Registrars Lists, 1,467 (12%) on the Callover Lists and some 2,678 (21%) on the Circuit Court Judges’ List. There were 5,340 unique cases (excluding duplicate listings) in the period. This duplication of Listing occurs due to adjournments, or separate hearings, and Listings in each of the Registrars, Callover or Judges Lists in the period.  Media Coverage This major research report was discussed in many media outlets. These include reports from The Irish Times here and here, RTÉ News, RTÉ Six One News (Tuesday, @20.28), Irish Independent here and here, Irish Examiner here and here, Nuacht TG4 (@9.46), Newstalk, and Breaking News here and here.

Wednesday, 8 April 2020

“The EU institutional response after 2009 did not respect, observe or promote human or housing rights. This time it must be different” says Dr Padraic Kenna, NUI Galway Dr Padraic Kenna, Director of the Centre for Housing Law, Rights and Policy at the School of Law, NUI Galway, has said that the EU should avoid the mistakes of the 2009 crisis by ensuring that human rights, and particularly housing rights are embedded within its response to Covid-19. In a set of three new Briefing Papers available at  Dr Kenna outlines how EU institutions interacting with Member States’ in response to this crisis, must now apply the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, especially in economic governance and financial supervision.  He said that nowhere was this more important than in the way in which housing is treated. The three Briefing Papers will form the basis for a significant submission to the European Commission on a New Strategy for the Implementation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, now part of Treaty law for 10 years. Dr Kenna said: “Housing is a fundamental right and need on which so many other rights depend, like health, safety, privacy and home life, as Covid-19 has so clearly shown. Access to adequate and affordable housing for all is becoming a key test of the economic, social and environmental sustainability of the Union.” “Housing is a major political issue in many Member States, including as we know, here in Ireland,” he continued. “Over 80 million Europeans are overburdened by housing costs.  One quarter of Europeans live in overcrowded housing, and an estimated 700,000 people were homeless in 2019. Housing is, once again ,the wobbly pillar of EU banking stability, and this will be exacerbated following Covid-19.” Dr Kenna also commented that a ‘business as usual’ attitude by EU institutions when it comes to responding to the Covid-19 tragedy was no longer good enough for EU citizens. “Maintaining the legitimacy of all our EU institutions is now a vital part of the recovery we need. To do this, we all need to see a real human and housing based-reboot.”

Monday, 2 March 2020

New Zealand is very much to the fore In terms of global developments in electronic conveyancing. Today (March 2 2020), we had a very interesting lecture on these developments in this area, including comparisons between eConveyancing progress in Ireland and in New Zealand, by Sandra Murphy Solicitor and IRC PhD candidate, and Professor Rod Thomas, of Auckland University, New Zealand, who is an international expert in this area.

Thursday, 13 February 2020

The School of Law was delighted to welcome back Jacinta Niland (partner), Beauchamps Solicitors, to deliver a guest lecture on commercial leases to students of the International Commercial Property Law Module on the LLM in International and Comparative Business Law this week. Jacinta is a Bachelor of Civil Law graduate from NUI Galway (2005) as well as a Masters in Law (e-law & commercial law) in UCC (2006). She qualified as a solicitor in 2011 and became a partner at Beauchamps in 2017.

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

The European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights is now ten years old. The Charter brings into European and Irish law a range of human rights – in such areas as equality, access to justice, respect for privacy and home, and a range of socio-economic rights. The Charter, in its entirety, addresses, and is applicable to, the institutions, bodies, offices and agencies of the Union, and Member States when they implement EU law. To mark the 10th Anniversary of the Charter the School of Law NUI Galway arranged, together with the Irish Centre for European Law (ICEL), and Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI), a major conference in December 2019, with speakers from across all areas law of EU and human rights law and a range of EU Member States. Panel discussions were chaired by The Hon Mr Justice Nial Fennelly, The Hon Mr Justice Aindrias Ó Caoimh, and the Hon Mr Justice Tony O’ Connor. Pictured above are Dr. Stephen Brittain BL. Director ICEL, Dr Padraic Kenna NUI Galway, Marguerite Angelari, J.D. (OSJI) The Hon Mr Justice Nial Fennelly (formerly of the Supreme Court), Professor Michael O’Flaherty, Director of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, Anna Van Duin, University of Amsterdam, Professor Jeff Kenner, University of Nottingham and Vice President of the Global Campus of Human Rights, Venice, Italy.  Conference participants in the Long Room Hub, Trinity College Dublin

Monday, 6 January 2020

In September 2020 NUI Galway’s School of Law will enrol the first cohorts of students in two new undergraduate degrees; Law, Criminology and Criminal Justice and Law and Taxation. The launch of these two new programmes is the latest in a series of innovations by the School of Law to further develop the undergraduate study of law at NUI Galway. Law, Criminology and Criminal Justice is a unique new degree providing students with the opportunity to combine the study of a full undergraduate law degree with specially-developed modules in criminal law, criminology and criminal justice. Programme Director, Dr Diarmuid Griffin said: “Graduates of this programme will be well-positioned to pursue careers as barristers or solicitors specialising in criminal law or working with the agencies and organisations of the criminal justice system.” Law and Taxation will enable students to combine the study of a full undergraduate law degree with taxation and still explore other related areas of law and commerce including Business and Commercial Law, Accountancy, Economics, Digital Business and Management. Senior Lecturer in Taxation and Finance at NUI Galway, Dr Emer Mulligan said: “Ireland is an increasingly important hub on the international taxation landscape. Irish law and other professional services firms advise leading domestic and international corporations and financial institutions, who undertake their business in and from Ireland. This Law and Taxation degree will equip students with the graduate attributes, knowledge and practical work experience needed to pursue a range of careers in taxation across tax advisory roles and industry.” The two new programmes complement existing Law degrees on offer at NUI Galway including Law, Law and Business, and Law and Human Rights, which was launched in 2019 and is the first of its kind in the country. All Law degrees offered by NUI Galway are full Law degrees which means students have the option to pursue professional legal training as a solicitor or as a barrister upon graduation. All programmes offer study abroad and work placement opportunities and recent reforms of the Year 1 curriculum across all Law programmes means that students are equipped with core legal skills from the outset, before progressing to more complex Law modules. Head of School of Law at NUI Galway, Dr Charles O’Mahony explains: “It is a great time to consider studying Law at NUI Galway, especially with the new and innovative changes around our undergraduate programmes. We are very proud that the School of Law was named the ‘Law School of the Year 2019’ at the recent Irish Law Awards. NUI Galway Law students become highly-skilled, employable graduates able to progress to professional qualification and to pursue a range of other careers locally, nationally and globally. Our new Law degrees allow students to specialise in areas of interest to them, equipping students with both the academic and practical skills required for successful careers.” For more information on the new programmes visit our undergraduate page.

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