Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Questions (209)

Andrew Doyle

Question:

209. Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he is considering reforming the role of peace commissioners here in view of the fact that the current legislation governing their role is old, namely, the Courts of Justice Act 1924; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that although peace commissioners continue to have powers to issue warrants, under a small number of statutes, several decisions by the courts regarding the issuing of summonses and warrants were subject to a number of legal challenges in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and decisions of the superior courts raised serious doubts about the constitutional competence of peace commissioners to exercise such powers, thus limiting the role of peace commissioner and transferring their more onerous tasks to the courts; his views on completely overhauling the handbook and guidance manual explaining their role and duties to ensure information is updated in line with current legislation, and in view of the fact that the current handbook given to new peace commissioners is out of line with current documents that require the signature of a peace commissioner; the contents of the review that was initiated in early 2008 on the status and functions of peace commissioners; if any recommendations in the review were ever acted upon; the discussions that have been held in his Department on the future of this area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35688/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Office of Peace Commissioner is an honorary appointment under section 88 of the Courts of Justice Act, 1924 for which there is no remuneration or compensation by way of fees or expenses for services. An application for appointment may be submitted by a person who is interested in obtaining an appointment, or a third party may submit a nomination in respect of a person considered suitable for appointment. Nominations are generally received from public representatives. A local Garda Superintendent can also request an appointment in a particular area in the public interest.

Peace Commissioners, on appointment, are issued with a guidance manual explaining their role and duties. While I believe more work needs to be done, this manual is updated from time to time to take account of changes in legislation.

As regards the review referred to by the Deputy, I am informed that this was an internal paper by an intern staff member in the Department but that no firm proposals subsequently emerged. While I have no immediate plans to amend the legislation relating to Peace Commissioners, I do intend keeping the matter under review.