Through its legal advice clinics, Nasc had become aware of increasing levels of prosecution for begging of members of the Roma community in Cork City Centre. Given the growing complexity of queries coming through the clinics, Nasc approached PILA for clarification on what constituted legal and illegal begging, and on the powers of Gardaí to arrest and charge a person with begging.
PILA connected Nasc with David Rickard BL who provided a pro bono opinion on the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 2011 which, rather than providing clear-cut guidelines, raised several areas of confusion.
For Nasc’s Legal Service Manager, Fiona Hurly, “PILA has been a hugely important resource for Nasc over the last few years and we were delighted with the opportunity to work with David Rickard BL. We were really impressed with the extremely detailed and thorough analysis of the law that David carried out for us as well as the practical suggestions he provided for those arrested on begging charges. The advices will inform Nasc’s work with the Roma community over the coming months and we to incorporate the information into training sessions for members of the Roma Community.”
According to David, “while challenging, this was a worthwhile project involving considerable research. Generally the law in this area remains little tested. Doing pro bono work, such as this, enables me to become involved in very worthwhile work by utilising my own time, resources and experience and [I] will continue to do so.”