Access to Justice Concerns as 80% Believe Poorer People Get Worse Legal Outcomes

 New Amárach Poll Also Highlights Support for Housing Rights, Healthcare Access Inequality, High Experiences of Racism & Concerns Over Disability Rights

People in Ireland overwhelmingly (80%) believe that people with less money generally get worse outcomes in a legal challenges, according to a new national poll published today by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (‘the Commission’).

The Amárach annual poll of human rights and equality issues in Ireland, also shows that nine in ten agree that providing free Legal Aid is essential to ensuring equal access to justice.

The poll also outlines people’s perspectives on housing as a right, equal access to healthcare, experiences of racism, and disability rights among other areas.

On Access to Justice issues Sinéad Gibney, Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission commented:

“Access to justice means more than being able to swing open the courtroom door, it’s about being able to properly and fairly engage with our legal system irrespective of factors such as your age, your gender, your ethnicity, whether you are a disabled person or what your job or income is.

“It is deeply worrying that a huge majority of people across Ireland agree that your legal challenge will have a worse outcome if your bank balance is low, and young people in particular strongly hold this view. Free legal aid is a crucial element of access to justice, and we as a Commission have been consistently critical about how civil legal aid is sharply restricted.”

The nationally representative poll of over 1200 people published today also shows that in relation to:

  • Housing 83% of people in Ireland consider housing to be a basic human right, this is a rise of 1% from last year’s poll which asked the same question. 13% are against.
  • Racism – 32% of people say they have witnessed or directly experienced racism over the last year. This rises to 43% among 25-34 year olds
  • Constitutional Change – 62% of people in Ireland believe that the right to housing should be enshrined in our Constitution, 24% are against.
  • Healthcare – 89% of people agree that the State should provide public health care to all in Ireland with 63% saying it is unfair that people with higher income can afford better healthcare.
  • Discrimination Reform- 78% of people support the inclusion of a new ground in Ireland’s equality law to protect people against discrimination due to their socio-economic status (such as their family background, home address or type of housing, educational background, economic situation). 9% are against.
  • Persistent Inequalities- More than half of people (51%) disagree with the view that everyone in Ireland enjoys the same basic human rights.
  • Knowledge of Human Rights 65% of people say they know a ‘great deal’ or ‘fair deal’ about human rights with 28% saying they know ‘not very much’ or ‘nothing’.
  • COVID Responses – 35% of people agree human rights and equality have been sufficiently protected in Ireland during the COVID19 crisis while 23% 67% agree that Ireland’s response to COVID-19 has increased the solidarity they feel to older, vulnerable and minority groups.

On the overall poll results Sinéad Gibney, Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission commented:

“Year on year we see people across Ireland being strong and consistent in their respect for human rights and equality.

“It’s inspiring as a nation that 95% of us agree that human rights are important for creating a fairer society in Ireland, and 91% of us agree that no matter who you are or where you come from, you should be treated equally.”

As Ireland’s national human rights and equality body, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission carried out this survey as part of its mandate to protect and promote human rights and equality in Ireland.


For further information, please contact:

Brian Dawson, IHREC Communications Manager,

087 0697095

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Editor’s Note:

The Amárach Research poll

An online survey was carried out by Amárach Research on behalf of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.

A total sample of 1,201 was achieved with quotas set on gender, age, social class and region to achieve a sample aligned with national population. Amárach estimate that the margin of error of 3%, which allows a confidence interval of 95%. Interviewing fieldwork dates were 12th-19th of October 2021.

Detail and breakdowns of the poll findings are available here:

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission,

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is an independent public body, appointed by the President and directly accountable to the Oireachtas. The Commission has a statutory remit set out under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act (2014) to protect and promote human rights and equality in Ireland, and build a culture of respect for human rights, equality and intercultural understanding in the State. As part of its statutory remit, the Commission has a specific function to work towards the elimination of discrimination.