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New free legal clinics for Poles in Cork

Last update - Thursday, July 2, 2009, 15:50 By Anna Paluch

Access to legal assistance has been an urgent need for Polish communities abroad. In Ireland, the language barrier and costs involved have dissuaded many from seeking legal advice from native solicitors.

But in recent years, Polish community groups have tried to fill the gap by providing consultations free of charge. Now Cork is home to a dedicated clinic for Poles seeking advice.
The Legal Assistance Clinics project at Cork’s Centrum Wsparcia i Integracji Together-Razem began last week in co-operation with Lillian O’Sullivan Solicitors to provide professional help in employment and family issues to those who  otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it.
“Volunteers from our centre are not always able to answer all the questions,” says Together-Razem’s Wojciech Bialek, “so the Legal Assistance Clinics were organised as a result of our long-time co-operation with O’Sullivan.” 
The free legal clinic operates at the centre on the last Wednesday of every month. Prior registration is required in order for the solicitors to decide whether cases can be dealt with on-the-spot or if they require deeper appraisal.
Bialek stresses that the clinic is only for those who need assistance with family or employment law, and no business cases will be considered.
“You have to remember that our volunteers work for free,” he says, and warns that they must be respected.
“I’m saying this because during our duties in the drop-in clinic we witnessed unpleasant situations. Regrettably, we refuse to see and help people who are under the influence of intoxicating substances or have an aggressive attitude or claim too much.”
The legal assistance is provided is free of charge and volunteers working at the centre will provide translation services where necessary. But as a non-profit organisation, Tog-ether-Razem more than welcomes any donations.
To register for the Legal Assistance Clinics, call 089 413 7628 (lines open Monday to Friday from 4pm to 8pm). Applicants can also register by e-mail to wojciech.bialek
Meanwhile, a seminar on employment law and employees’ rights is planned for this autumn.
Organised by Lillian O’Sullivan Solicitors with representatives from trade unions and the National Employment Rights Authority, the event proposes to be a practical forum for those with a stake in the issues at hand.

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