Written Answers. - Free Legal Aid Service.

Paul McGrath

Question:

149 Mr. McGrath asked the Minister for Justice when funds will be made available to the Law Centre, Athlone, County Westmeath, to provide an adequate free legal aid service in the midlands.

The Government provided a substantially increased Grant-in-Aid to the Legal Aid Board this year for the provision of legal services under the scheme of civil legal aid and advice. This has enabled the board to keep open four law centres, including the Law Centre in Athlone, which would otherwise have had to close at the end of last year due to lack of funds.

The extra moneys available to the board will allow it to recruit extra staff including solicitors. The board is currently in the process of recruiting such staff and, with their assignment, the waiting periods at law centres generally should be reduced.