I am informed that the conference in question was the biennial conference of the International Legal Aid Group (ILAG) and it was held in New Zealand just last April. The ILAG was originally established in 1992 to provide a forum where national experts involved in the area of legal aid could exchange views and examine common issues and challenges facing legal aid providers in a number of jurisdictions. Since the mid 1990s, the ILAG has hosted biennial conferences to facilitate these discussions. The Legal Aid Board was represented at this year's conference by its Chairperson and its Chief Executive. The travel expenses of the board's representatives were met from its own resources. I am advised that they were fully in line with Civil Service travel and subsistence norms and I am advised that costs were kept to an absolute minimum.
I understand that the Legal Aid Board has participated in these biennial conferences since the late 1990s and, indeed, hosted the 2005 event in Killarney. The board is of the view that, by allowing it to draw on international experience, the conference makes a positive contribution in terms of informing the board's own thinking on a wide range of important operational and strategic issues. This year's conference covered a wide range of topics of relevance to the Irish experience. Both the Chairperson and Chief Executive were very much involved in the conference by way of chairing or facilitating sessions over the three days of the forum as well as presenting the national report on legal aid in Ireland.