Jurisdiction in wards of court matters is vested in the High Court. As the courts are, subject only to the Constitution and the law, independent in the exercise of their judicial functions, the Deputy will appreciate that it is not open to me to intervene or comment on the conduct of any individual case.
However, I have had inquiries made in the matter and I understand that the solicitor representing the estate of the deceased in the case has been given a date in April 2000 as the date on which the application for dismissal from wardship can be considered. I understand that this date was assessed on the basis of current workloads and staffing level on the office of wards of court.
I am pleased to inform the Deputy that, following recent consultations with the unions concerned, three outstanding vacancies in this office are due to be filled shortly. In addition, in response to historic staff shortages in the office which predated my appointment as Minister, I have sought additional staff resources. I have now received sanction from the Minister for Finance for five new posts to tackle that backlog.
I am confident that these measures will ensure that the necessary steps can now be taken to bring forward the processing of applications to discharge wardships such as that arising in this case.