I welcome the opportunity to raise this matter on the Adjournment and I thank the Minister for coming in to respond to it.
An elderly constituent of mine received an unsigned and undated document from the District Court, which had a case number and a fine number attached and a demand for €130. It appears that a lady charged with shoplifting in a department store gave the name and address of this elderly constituent of mine. A garda from Store Street Garda station dealt with the case. As a result of the intervention of a concerned neighbour who visited the Garda station to find out what was happening, the garda visited my constituent at her home and having met with her confirmed to her that she was not the person involved in the shoplifting incident. This visit happened only because of the intervention of the neighbour who was concerned for my constituent.
My constituent was given to understand by the garda who visited her that a letter would follow, confirming to her that she was not in any way guilty. No letter arrived. However, in mid-April, a notice addressed to my constituent and signed by a garda from Sundrive Road Garda station, was delivered to her address, stating that a number of warrants were processed for her arrest and imprisonment. This lady is 76 years old and lives alone. As one can imagine, she was terrified by this turn of events. It had already been confirmed to her that she had no involvement in the shoplifting incident. On her behalf I made a number of telephone calls and wrote to the Garda, requesting clarification and confirmation of her innocence.
As far as she is concerned, she is still at risk of being arrested and thrown into jail. Her name is on a file somewhere with this charge against her. I need to know that the matter has been resolved; that it is confirmed to my constituent that she was not the person involved in the shoplifting incident; that her name is removed from the file; and that she will not be served with another summons or warrant for her arrest. She also needs an apology for all the distress she has been caused. It is not good enough that an elderly person can be left to worry about an incident like this for months.