Senator gave an insightful contribution to the major public interest law conference organised by Public Interest Law Alliance (PILA). The conference highlighted the growth in use of law by social justice organisations. Nearly 400 legal and civic society actors attended the conference that was opened by Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton.
The conference’s keynote speech was delivered by former South African Constitutional Court Judge, Albie Sachs. Justice Sachs is one of the foremost civil libertarians of our time and a pioneer in the constitutional recognition of human rights, with a unique perspective and remarkable spirit. Justice Sachs talked about working with young lawyer Nelson Mandela and his journey from ‘law breaker to law maker’.
The conference was not Sachs’s first visit to Ireland. During his exile The Bill of Rights for the new South African Constitution was written by Sachs in Ireland.
The panel included Justice Sachs himself, Noeline Blackwell (FLAC Director-General), Gerry Hyland (Chair of the Board, The PILS Project), Peter Ward SC (Chairperson, FLAC Council), Gerry Whyte (Associate Professor, Trinity College Dublin) and Senator Katherine Zappone.
Senator reflected her own experiences, most importantly her case against the Irish statewith Dr Ann Louise Gilligan that is situated in the territory of law of public interest. She noted that in law making sometimes conflicting strategies are pursued to challenge injustice.
Senator Zappone concluded by calling the proverb that Nelson Mandela used when he was imprisoned on Robben Island, “’Each one; Teach one’, Nelson Mandela used this phase to mark the importance of empowerment as we all journey towards justice.”.