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05 September 2019

Francis Hanna Solicitor Laura Banks was the first of 18 speakers to deliver a TED talk in Parliament Buildings, Stormont on 31st August. The theme of the event was “Imagine”. The speakers were invited to share their ideas and vision for a better society, in Northern Ireland and beyond.

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Laura took her place on the iconic “red dot” to speak about about the inception of the landmark Supreme Court case she took which successfully challenged eligibility for cohabiting parents – “the Siobhan McLaughlin case”. She told the story of discovering that thousands of co-habiting families were being denied support and setting about challenging it but how so many people around her told her that it wasn’t possible. None the less she succeeded to eventually win the case, with the Supreme Court finding that the government’s policy represented unlawful discrimination and was incompatible with human rights law. The case is expected to bring about widespread reform of bereavement benefits, impacting thousands of families throughout the UK.

Laura said “There are so many injustices in our society and each of us can and should play a part in challenging them. Don’t leave it to lawyers and politicians and people who think know more than you do. Trust your gut and believe in yourself.”

She added that compassion is something that isn’t always synonymous with the perception of lawyers but how it is essential in all professions and aspects of life, if we are to make our society a fairer place.

Speaking about the experience, Laura said “It was a huge honour to be part of such an inspiring, uplifting day. To share the stage with and hear ideas from such an array of inspiring speakers was a wonderful opportunity. It gave me real food for thought on how we can all shape a better society. I was particularly glad, as a lawyer to speak about the role that the law has to play in making a difference to people’s lives- a message which often gets forgotten. My key message was really that we all have a part to play in challenging injustice and that if we believe in ourselves and work together to inspire each other, anything is possible and we can make a difference.”

For any Social Justice query, contact Laura Banks on 02890 243 901 or email