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Access to Justice

How Trócaire has fought for justice around the world

apartheid poster - Stop Apartheid Now

A 1980s Trócaire poster against Apartheid.

The Proclamation read out by the leaders of the 1916 Rising envisaged a new Ireland which “guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities…cherishing all of the children of the nation equally.”

Trócaire was established with a similar vision and hope for a different part of the world. Just as the Proclamation looked to build a society based on equality and liberty, Trócaire’s founding document clearly outlined the belief that people in developing countries must be able to actively participate in their own development, not simply be fed the crumbs of rich nations’ prosperity.

The organisation was established as a voice for the forgotten and the oppressed. From the start its mandate was to not only help tackle the injustice of poverty but also to ask why people faced this injustice in the first place.

Trócaire’s long-term development work has always been rooted in equality and human rights. Its founding mandate states; ‘Abroad [Trócaire] will give whatever help lies within its resources to the areas of greatest need among the developing countries. At home, it will try to make us all more aware of the needs of those countries and of our duties towards them. These duties are no longer a matter of charity but of simple justice.’

Overcoming poverty is about so much more than practical support; it’s about justice and people realising their rights. 

Many countries around the world have been inspired by and taken comfort in the support Irish people have provided to them. Trócaire has always based its programmes on the firm belief that extreme poverty is an injustice that should never be accepted.

Shortly after its foundation Trócaire became involved in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, a struggle which lasted for almost two decades. Trócaire challenged the Irish government to condemn the oppression of apartheid and in March 1986 the government announced a ban on imports of fruit and vegetables from South Africa.

El Salvador’s civil war lasted over ten years claiming 75,000 lives and forcing over a million people from their homes. A UN peace accord was signed in 1992, but amnesty was granted to armed forces. Trócaire’s commitment to finding justice in El Salvador supported organisations that took international court cases to reverse this amnesty and in 2003 they succeeded, leading to cases going through the courts.

In 1991 Somalia was plunged into a devastating famine caused by a crippling civil war. President Mary Robinson’s visit to the region, the first of any head of state, focused international attention on the crisis and demanded that world leader’s act to protect starving Somali people. With support from Ireland, Trócaire rebuilt clinics, schools and restored water sources. Today the Gedo programme in Somalia consists of over 50 health posts, three hospitals and eleven primary schools, staffed by local Somali people and reaching over 220,000 people.

Photo: A.Gichigi. Girls play with skipping ropes during their break time at the Dollow Primary school, Somalia.

Trócaire’s programmes in Somalia bring healthcare and education to over 220,000 people.

These are just some examples of how, thanks to the support of the Irish public, Trócaire has carried the message of justice, equality and human rights across the world. Read more about Trócaire’s history or where Trócaire works today.

Ireland’s legacy of courage and compassion has spread through Trócaire, across the world and provided countless families and communities with the support and strength they need to build a fairer future for themselves and generations to come.

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