Natural justice practised in Philippines by Limerick barrister

Donal O’Regan


Donal O’Regan

Diane Duggan, Cappamore on her first trip to the Philippines with Serve in 2003. Ten years on she has returned to work with the Badjao tribe
THE COURTS in Ireland close for the month of August but barrister, Diane Duggan will still be fighting for justice.

THE COURTS in Ireland close for the month of August but barrister, Diane Duggan will still be fighting for justice.

The Cappamore woman will spend a total of four weeks helping a marginalised tribe in the Philippines.

Instead of spending her holidays in luxury accommodation Diane will live with host families in houses made out of galvanise and wood with outhouses as bathroom.

But this is nothing new to her as this is her third trip with charity organisation Serve - founded by Limerick Redemptorist priest Fr Gerry O’Connor in 2003.

Diane was on Serve’s pilot project to Cebu in the Philippines.

“We were working with a tribe in the middle of the Philippines called the Badjao. They are an ethnic tribe throughout south east Asia. In the city of Cebu there are 3,000 of them.

“They are quite marginalised, they are not recognised as Filipino citizens. When I was living there 10 years ago they lived on the edge of the city where the city’s sewerage meets the sea.

“It was absolutely horrendous, the children were sick and malnourished. Life expectancy was about late 50s, it’s a very grim way of living.

“They are moved on quite a bit, like Travellers here,” said Diane.

She left Ireland last Thursday to spend a month in Cebu and hopefully meet some of the people she knew from 2003, and see an improvement in conditions.

Along with Serve, other NGOs have worked with the Badjao, and particularly a Presentation Sister from Galway. “They managed to acquire land for them and build houses about six years ago. We will be building some more houses. There is also a pre-school so we will be working and teaching in the pre-school as well

“I am really excited to see if things have improved,” said Diane, whose mum and dad are Sean and Eilis and she has two brothers Barry and Colin

Diane had to raise €1,600 to pay for flights, fund building of the houses and Serve’s ongoing work. Diane received a donation from Cappamore Historical Society but the rest she is paying for herself.

She is the only person of the 13 Serve volunteers going from Munster.

Working as a barrister in Dublin Diane has a high pressured job and her time is precious. Yet to her this is a holiday.

“I was there before and I was in Brazil in 2006 with Serve. I learned from the experience that it really makes you reassert your priorities in life, take a fresh perspective on things and realise what is important.

“People take holidays for similar purposes - to unwind and get better perspectives on their lives. This is a more active way of doing it.

“I am a big believer in global citizenship. There are inequalities throughout the world and if we can do our bit to address them in whatever way we can we should do that. And if there are opportunities to do that we should avail of that, and make a difference even in the smallest way,” says Diane.