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Current Research Projects, School of Law, Trinity College Dublin

Research Projects

Members of the Law School are involved in a variety of research projects ranging from those focused on law reform in Ireland to international, comparative and interdisciplinary projects. Such projects have received external funding from public bodies such as the Irish Research Council, the European Commission and the International Labour Organisation, as well as research organisations, including Amárach Research and Future Analytics. In 2015, Dr. Mary Rogan was awarded a European Research Council Starting Grant worth €1.5million for a project entitled 'Prisons: the rule of law, accountability and rights'.


Prisons: the Rule of Law, Accountability and Rights (PRILA)

Project Investigator: Dr. Mary Rogan

Dr. Mary Rogan was awarded a Starting Grant of €1.5 million by the European Research Council to carry out this research over the period 2016-2021.

This project aims:

1. To find out whether 'accountability' is a distinctive norm of the European legal system, and what European prison law and policy requires regarding the oversight and monitoring of prisons;
2. To find out how accountability is experienced by prisoners, prison staff and staff of bodies such as Ombudsmen, inspectors, and bodies which deal with complaints;
3. To create a typology of accountability bodies in European prison systems, and examine the relationship between the presence of such bodies and other indicators of prison regimes.

Dr. Rogan will lead a team of three postdoctoral researchers, two PhD students, an MPhil student and a research assistant to carry out the work.

 


Towards Pre-Trial Detention as Ultima Ratio (DETOUR)

Project Investigator: Dr. Mary Rogan

This project examines the use of pre-trial detention and alternatives to such detention across Europe. It involves work in Ireland, Romania, Austria, Germany, Lithuania and the Netherlands. It will analyse pre-trial detention practices, with a particular focus on decisions which have a cross-border element. This project will run from 2016 until the end of 2017, and Dr. Mary Rogan was awarded €50,000 for the work on pre-trial detention in Ireland, out of a total budget of €540,000 for the cross-European consortium by the European Commission's Directorate General: Justice.


Changing Ireland, Changing Law

Project Investigators:Prof Ivana Bacik and Dr. Mary Rogan

This project, co-directed with Prof Ivana Bacik and Dr. Mary Rogan was funded by the Irish Research Council's 'Engaging Civic Society' stream of its New Foundations scheme, sought to promote public debate, discussion and reflection on how law and social change interact in Ireland. Additional funding was also secured from the Trinity College Dublin Equality Fund and Arts & Social Sciences Benefactions Fund.

Each of the four seminars run in 2015 under this project brought together former litigants, lawyers, civil society organisations, academics and all those interested in the connections between law and social change. Four themes were explored over the course of the seminars. The project also disseminated its results to the Oireachtas, and will produce an edited collection to be published by Clarus Press in 2016.

The first seminar, 'women changing law, changing society', organised with the NWCI, took place on 8th May 2015. It was addressed by Máirín de Búrca, litigant in de Búrca and Anderson v Attorney General [1972] IR 1, and Dr. Micheline Sheehy-Skeffington, who won her claim before the Equality Tribunal that her employer, NUI Galway, had discriminated against her for promotion on gender grounds. Professor Yvonne Scannell spoke of her involvement in the Murphy v Attorney General [1982] IR 241 litigation; Mary O'Toole SC provided a practitioner's perspective, and Professor Aileen McColgan of King's College London gave an international view.

The second seminar, jointly hosted with GLEN, took place on 25th June 2015, on the topic of 'sexual identity, law and social change'. It was addressed by Senator David Norris, litigant in the key case leading to the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Ireland (Norris v. Ireland [1984] IR 36 and ECHR 10581/83); Senator Katherine Zappone and her wife Dr Ann Louise Gilligan, whose High Court litigation seeking recognition for the right to marry pre-dated the referendum establishing the right to marriage equality (Zappone & Gilligan v. Revenue Commissioners [2004] IEHC 404); and Professor Mark Bell of Trinity College Dublin, who spoke on the impact that litigation has had for LBGT rights generally.

The third seminar, on 'immigration, asylum and legal change', organised with the ICI, took place on 18th September 2015. It was addressed by Gandhi Mallak, litigant in the important Supreme Court case on citizenship rights, Mallak v. Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform [2012] IESC 59. Dr. Patricia Brazil from Trinity College Dublin, and Professor Cathryn Costello from Oxford University, spoke on the national and international legal issues involved in this area.

The fourth seminar, entitled 'Public interest litigation; does it work?' was held in conjunction with PILA on 16th October 2015. Speakers included litigant Dr Lydia Foy, who challenged the State's failure to provide for transgender rights in Foy v. An t-Ard Chláraitheoir [2007] IEHC 470; Kevin Brophy of Brophy Solicitors who gave a practitioner's view; Maeve O'Rourke BL, who discussed her advocacy work on behalf of survivors of the Magdalen Laundries; and Professor Gerry Whyte of Trinity College Dublin, who provided an academic overview of public interest litigation and identified some key themes that have emerged from many such cases.

These key themes, and the findings from the research project generally, were presented by Dr Rogan and Prof Bacik before a meeting of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice in November 2015. In that presentation, it was pointed out that while the changing nature of society is evident every day in our courtrooms, within the Houses of the Oireachtas, and in the actions of campaigning and advocacy organisations, it is only in exceptional cases that we hear the stories behind moments of legal change.

An edited collection is expected to be finalised during 2016, and will be published by Clarus Press.