Written Answers. - Court Poor Box.

Desmond J. O'Malley

Question:

66 Mr. O'Malley asked the Minister for Justice the extent of the use of the poor box in lieu of fine by the Judiciary; the status, if any, of such practice; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9193/97]

I am aware that for many years, pre-dating the foundation of the State, individual judges, from time to time, have ordered that contributions be paid into the court poor box or be paid directly to a named charity rather than convicting and fining a defendant in the usual way.

The decision on the appropriate penalty is taken by the judge, within the maximum prescribed by law, by reference to the conclusions he has reached after trying the case, hearing the evidence presented and assessing the culpability and situation of the accused.

The court poor box is used predominantly in the District Court. In the year ending 31 December 1996, there was a total of 1,956 contributions made to the court poor box to total value of £305,481.18.

Set out below are the amounts received in this regard in the District Court for the years ending 31 December 1993, 1994, 1995 and 1996.

£

1993

139,750.68

1994

161,159.96

1995

217,143.22

1996

305,481.18

In the Circuit Court for the same year ending 31 December 1996, contributions were made to the court poor box in three Circuit Court venues as follows:
Castlebar: eight contributions to the total value of £1,600; Monaghan: one contribution to the value of £200; Galway: 30 contributions to the total value of £11,650.
Contributions ordered by the judge to be made direct to a charitable organisation or be transmitted through the Garda or the probation and welfare office are not recorded in the above.