Written Answers. - Family Law Cases.

Alan Shatter

Question:

73 Mr. Shatter asked the Minister for Justice the reason no personnel from the Probation and Welfare Service are attached to the Dublin Metropolitan District Court at Dolphin House which deals with family law applications; and the plans, if any, she has to appoint any person or persons to that Court to undertake family assessment reports at the request of judges asked to determine custody, barring and maintenance applications. [466/94]

Austin Currie

Question:

74 Mr. Currie asked the Minister for Justice the action, if any, she intends to take to remedy a situation where family background reports in family law cases are not available to judges for up to one year; the reason for this delay; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1324/94]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 73 and 74 together.

One probation and welfare officer is assigned to the Dublin Metropolitan Court to deal exclusively with civil work. While the Probation and Welfare Service has not had a statutory role in relation to family law cases, probation and welfare officers have traditionally undertaken civil work at the request of the presiding judge. However, the service's primary role relates to criminal law cases.

I am aware that the Probation and Welfare Service, having regard to the demands placed on it arising from its statutory role in the criminal law area, cannot always meet the increasing demands placed on it in the context of family law cases. In the Dublin Metropolitan District Court, for example, hearings may often be adjourned for up to nine months with the consent of the parties to await a report. I accept that this arrangement is not satisfactory and I am keeping the matter under review.