Threats to Fundamental Rights Online: the Public/Private Nexus

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Joseph Breen-Williams

Ordinary Committee Member

While technology law and public interest law may seem worlds apart, litigation strategy has become a major part of regulating the Internet. This event, which was co-hosted with the DU Pirate Party, sought to expose some of the shadier practices used in technological data retention which interfere with fundamental rights, particularly freedom of expression and the right to privacy. Our speaker, TJ McIntyre is a lecturer in Law in UCD, a practicing solicitor and chairman of the civil rights group Digital Rights Ireland.

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Supreme Court Justice Catherine McGuiness Speaks To FLAC

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Joseph Breen-Williams

Ordinary Committee Member

FLAC were very fortunate to have three such eminent speakers for the Direct Provision Talk which took place last Monday. Former Supreme Court Justice Catherine McGuinness, who served until 2011 as head of the Law Reform Commission, introduced the topic of direct provision. Direct provision is the system under which Ireland processes refugees. Rather than integrating them in the community, they are kept in centres and disallowed from working. She explained that this originated due to the relative recency of asylum seekers in Ireland. Although we signed the Refugee Convention in 1956, we have no obligations from it. Although the Refugee Act was passed in 1996, there is in fact no statutory basis for direct provision, and no regulation of it. It is an issue about which Ms Justice McGuinness cares deeply. She noted that Ireland grants refugee status to around 2 – 3% of asylum seekers, compared to the 20 – 60% in other European countries. She spoke with candour in describing the direct provision accommodation as a “geed up caravan park”, going on to state that direct provision has “shown up how poorly we have dealt with this situation.”

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