Host Organisation: Housing Rights 2022

Dearbhla O’Connor

Briefly explain your most recent educational background and any work (paid or voluntary) you were doing before you began your Fellowship?

I have a BA in English, Sociology and Politics from the University of Galway.
I have completed two master’s degrees at Queen’s University Belfast. The first was an MA in Conflict and Transformation, focusing my research on Irish Mother and Baby Homes, and the second was a Master’s in Law.
While studying, I worked as a paralegal in historical abuse cases and later as an advisor at Housing Rights. The latter inspired me to complete a dissertation entitled ‘Housing Rights are Human Rights; Advocating a rights-based approach in Northern Ireland.’ Since graduating I have been working full-time as a paralegal at a Housing Association.

Why did you want to apply for a Justice First Fellowship?

I applied for JFF as I have always been passionate about equal access to legal provision, and social justice.
Through my legal experience to date, the common issue I experience is that while some protections exist in law, marginalized individuals face severe difficulties in navigating legal mechanisms, and accessing recourse. As housing is a fundamental human right, I am drawn to this area, as I can effect change where it is most needed.
I am looking forward to undertaking my training contract at Housing Rights, and providing advocacy and advice to those who need it!

Complete the following sentence: ‘Outside of my legal interests, I enjoy…’

training my rescue dog Fodhla, exploring the countryside with her, horse riding and reading.

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