UCD Students launch Ireland’s first Civic Guide to the Constitution

The UCD Student Legal Service (SLS) has published the first Civic Guide to the Irish Constitution. The Guide was launched in the FitzGerald Chamber on April 8th by Supreme Court judge, Mr Justice Donal O’Donnell. The Guide aims to make the Constitution accessible to all citizens, not just academics or those already engaging with the law.

The initiative was spearheaded by publication Editor, James Hodgson who says that the “Constitution is [one] of the people; not just of the legal community”. The publication marks an expansion for the group and follows the success of their Manual on Student Rights’. The society hopes that “the guide shows [the] young generation that they can inspire a renewal within Irish society”.

O’Donnell has said that he hopes “that [the Guide] will introduce the Irish Constitution to many more citizens and inspire them to learn of, think about, and perform the obligations it imposes, and to exercise the freedoms it guarantees.”

Several other members of the judiciary were in attendance at the event alongside O’Donnell and were joined by members of the Law School faculty and those from the legal community. Director of the Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC), Noeline Blackwell, who addressed the society on the ethos behind providing free legal information earlier in the year, also supported the publication on the evening. SLS is run under the FLAC ethos.

Hodgson notes that the “hugely successful night [attracted] high calibre guests” which he said was “a testament to the worthwhile nature and great significance of [the] project, as well as the monumental growth and development of the SLS”.

The guide is currently available both in hardcopy and online through the SLS website, www.ucdstudentlegalservice.com. A mobile application is currently in development which the society hopes to launch in the near future. Outgoing Chairperson, Patrick Fitzgerald says that he believes “the publication demonstrates that the students of UCD can apply the skills of their legal education in an innovative and exciting manner.”

SLS is a voluntary society run by law students from all years which provides legal information free of charge to the UCD student population. Students are trained in the main areas of law dealt with by the society by UCD academics, post-graduate students and legal professionals. Bi-weekly clinics were held this year in the UCD Student Centre along with information stands set-up around campus.