Pro Bono Week Ireland puts spotlight on needs of unaccompanied migrant children

Pro Bono Week Ireland puts spotlight on needs of unaccompanied migrant children

Credit: Fennell Photography

The increased need for pro bono legal support for unaccompanied migrant children has been highlighted as part of Pro Bono Week Ireland.

The annual initiative bringing together legal professionals to advance justice equality in Ireland took place this week with a series of events to discuss unmet legal needs in Irish society.

On Wednesday, Arthur Cox hosted an event in Dublin in partnership with Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), an international NGO devoted to protecting unaccompanied and separated children.

KIND partners with the Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI), the Irish Refugee Council (IRC) and the pro bono legal community to ensure sustainable solutions for unaccompanied migrant children in Ireland. Since 2019, the project has assisted 252 clients from 29 countries of origin.

Event speakers included Sara Phelan SC, chair of the Bar Council of Ireland; Katie Mannion, managing solicitor of the Irish Refugee Council; Catherine Cosgrave, managing solicitor of the Immigrant Council of Ireland; Marieanne McKeown, director of the partnerships and pro bono programme at Arthur Cox; and beneficiaries of the project.

Brian Killoran, CEO of Immigrant Council of Ireland, said: “Our organisation is working day-to-day with migrants and their families in Ireland and we have seen first-hand the detrimental impact a lack of support services is having on children in particular.

“We have long been advocating for civil legal aid for unaccompanied refugee children applying for family reunification with their parents, as these applications are central to their long-term well-being and integration in Ireland.

“Legal assistance is essential to ensure that these children are able to deal with the complex administrative procedures and legal issues that arise.”

He added: “Events like [Wednesday] are vitally important to keep a spotlight on this important issue and foster greater connections between organisations like the ICI, IRC and KIND with the legal community in Ireland.”

In Ireland, Pro Bono Week is led by the Public Interest Law Alliance (PILA), a project of FLAC, and a committee made up of representatives from A&L Goodbody LLP, Arthur Cox LLP, DLA Piper Ireland LLP, Matheson LLP, McCann FitzGerald LLP, Mason Hayes & Curran LLP, and Philip Lee LLP.

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