About Us

Mercy Law Resource Centre (MLRC) is an independent law centre, registered charity and company limited by guarantee which provides free legal advice and representation to people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless in the areas of social housing and social welfare law.  The Centre also seeks to advocate change in laws, policies and attitudes which unduly and adversely impact its client group.

Listen to Newstalk interview, 30/12/13, with Maeve Regan, Solicitor-in-Charge (interview starts c.40.40)

Our Services

MLRC provides the following services to persons living in Dublin:

  • Free Legal Advice Clinics in homeless hostels and centres for homeless people.
  • Legal Representation.
  • Befriending Service.
  • Legal Support & training to organisations working in the field of Homelessness.
  • Policy Work.

Cases involving people who live outside Dublin may be undertaken on an exceptional basis.  The Centre recognises that casework and policy work go hand in hand and one cannot be successful without the other.  The advice clinics and focus groups highlight the issues that our client group face which in turn informs the test cases we take and policy issues we tackle.

Our Mission

MLRC provides a unique service that is accessible and, as far as possible, shaped to meet the individual needs of each client. Where possible, we meet clients in their own environment e.g. by providing advice clinics in homeless hostels.  We work with other organisations in the statutory and voluntary sectors to ensure clients have the appropriate supports they need.  We also have a team of volunteer befrienders who provide clients with emotional support as they go through the difficult process of seeking to assert their rights

MLRC’s ethos recognises the dignity of each person. We seek to ensure that all people are treated with respect and compassion and are enabled to access their full potential as human beings. We are committed to the principles of human rights, social justice, equality and community participation.

The Need for our Service

“Poor Law” (e.g. housing and social welfare law) is not catered for by either the private sector or the State legal aid system. The legal assistance which is available is often limited to advice only and is not always accessible to our clients; homeless persons are on the extreme margins of society and have additional hurdles in accessing legal services, rights and entitlements.  A further issue is that the services available are often fragmented ignoring the cluster of problems which our client group often experience i.e. other legal and non-legal problems.  Our experience has shown that homelessness is not an isolated issue and our client group face a number of other difficulties, including: Marital/ Family Breakdown; Domestic Violence; Mental Health; Drug / Alcohol Addiction; Immigration issues; Leaving Prison and Trafficking/ Prostitution.

Our Beginnings

At first sight, ‘Law’ and ‘Mercy’ appear to have little to do with each other. Mercy Law Resource Centre was born out of a desire to bring together these two differing worlds in the hope that, as law becomes ever more dominant and influential in our society, it would be illuminated and resourced by the values of compassion and justice for all, including the poor.

An opportunity to do just this arose when a lawyer, Michele O Kelly, joined the Sisters of Mercy.  With the encouragement of the Mercy leadership team, first under Sr. Helena O'Donoghue and then under Sr. Peggy Collins, the idea was conceived, not only of using law to advocate on behalf of those who are most marginalized and in need, but also of 'doing law' differently i.e. in a way that was genuinely accessible and of real help to the lives of those on the margins of society.

In preparation for this goal, consultations were held in 2008 by Sr. Michele O'Kelly and Sr. Anne Doyle with a number of interest groups in order to determine where the greatest need was for the type of service the Sisters of Mercy were seeking to provide and how it would best be provided.

Out of these consultations, it emerged that the group most in need were people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness which included those struggling with issues linked to homelessness such as addiction, mental illness, leaving prison and relationship breakdown.

With financial support from the Sisters of Mercy, a Law Centre was set up to provide legal services to this group. It was staffed by one solicitor (Michele O Kelly) and one administrator (Caitriona O'Hara) and it operated out of a room kindly provided by Sophia Housing, appropriately on the grounds of what used to be the old Mercy convent in Cork St. Incorporation as a company took place in May 2009 and charitable status was granted in June 2009.

From the outset, advice clinics were provided in homeless hostels (initially Crosscare, Charlemont Street and St. Vincent De Paul Hostel, Back Lane) and close links were developed with organisations working with those who are homeless. In this way, MLRC sought to make the service accessible and of real help to the people it wanted to serve. In addition, a befriending service was set up whereby volunteers could befriend and accompany clients of the Centre, through their journey through the legal system.  A training programme was developed with the help of the Women's Therapy Centre and eight befrienders began in the autumn of 2009.

In these distinctive ways, the aspirations with which the Centre was founded began to take concrete shape- a free, quality and holistic legal service to people most in need.

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© 2017 Mercy Law Resource Centre
  • 25 Cork St, Dublin 8, Ireland. 
  • Phone: +353 1 4537459
  • Fax: +353 1 4537455
  • Email: info@mercylaw.ie