Thursday, 13 December 2012

Questions (137)

Michael Lowry

Question:

137. Deputy Michael Lowry asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the current waiting times for Legal Aid Board services in County Tipperary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56109/12]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I wish to inform the Deputy that the Legal Aid Board is a statutory, independent body in accordance with the Civil Legal Aid Act, 1995. The issue he has raised is a matter for the Board. However, in order to be helpful to the Deputy I have had enquiries made with the Board on his behalf.

I am advised that the Legal Aid Board has a full time Law Centre in Nenagh. The Centre is among a number of centres piloting an ‘early legal advice’ or ‘triage’ service. The objective of this service is to ensure that every applicant gets to see, within one month of their application, a solicitor for a legal advice appointment lasting no more than 45 minutes.

The Centre is meeting this commitment at the moment. Applicants who require further services are currently waiting for approximately five months (from the date of their original application). The Centre operates part-time offices in Thurles and Clonmel also. The waiting times are similar to the Centre in Nenagh. The waiting time was approximately 10 months at the start of the year but this has reduced considerably during the course of this year.

In addition to the above, I am informed that the Legal Aid Board provides a priority service in cases where it considers that an immediate, or near immediate, service was needed. These include cases of domestic violence, child abduction, cases involving applications by the State to take children into care, and cases that have statutory time limits close to expiry.