201. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if she will broaden the remit of the Legal Aid Board to include issues related to social welfare, housing and employment. [12930/16]


Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Under section 27(2)(b) the Civil Legal Aid Act 1995 the Legal Aid Board may provide legal aid for legal representation for applicants before such tribunals as are prescribed by the Minister for Justice and Equality with the consent of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. To date only the Refugee Appeals Tribunal has been so designated.
Where statute provides an appeal mechanism from a tribunal to a court, legal aid can be provided for the appeal provided the means and merits criteria are met. The Board, in certain circumstances where the merit criteria permit, provides legal aid for Judicial Reviews of tribunal decisions both in employment and social welfare matters. Law Centres may provide legal advice in employment, social welfare and housing.
There are no plans at present to broaden the remit of the Board to cover the matters as set out in the Deputy's question but the matter is being kept under review.