SWINFORD native, and well-known human rights expert, Donncha O‘Connell, has been appointed to the new Legal Aid Board, by Minister Alan Shatter.
Mr O’Connell, who contested the Seanad elections earlier this year, was Dean of Law at NUI Galway from 2005 to 2008 and continues to teach European Human Rights and Constitutional Law there.
Past appointments include his roles as the first fulltime Director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) and as a board member of Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC) and Amnesty International-Ireland.
Currently, Mr O’Connell serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the London-based NGO, INTERIGHTS – The International Centre for the Legal Protection of Rights. He is also a member of the Advisory Board of the Public Interest Law Alliance (PILA), a FLAC project and has also extensive experience on European human rights bodies.
Announcing the membership of the new Board last week, Minister Shatter said: “I am delighted to announce this new Legal Aid Board. In the last four years there has been a considerable increase in demand for legal services and this coincides with the downturn in the economy. Evidence internationally has pointed towards a greater need for access to legal services in areas such as family law, debt and employment during times of economic stress and Ireland appears no different in this regard.”
He also said a priority of the new board would be the fast-tracking of appointments for legal aid applicants.
Mr O’Connell comes from a well-known Swinford family. His father, Maurice is a retired pharmacist and his mother, Bríd, is one of the Hughes’s of Altamont Street, Westport.