Private Residential Tenancies Board Enforcement

Questions (494)

Seán Kyne

Question:

494. Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will confirm that the Private Residential Tenancies Board is empowered to impose a penalty which is the effective doubling of the registration fee for rented properties; the source of this specific power; and his views that a tapered penalty would be more appropriate in the cases of genuine and honest delayed payment, particularly if brought about by postal delays. [5683/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Residential Tenancies Act 2004 regulates the tenant-landlord relationship in the private rented residential sector. The Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) was established under the Act to operate a national tenancy registration system and to resolve disputes between landlords and tenants in this sector. Following a review of the Act in 2009, the Residential Tenancies (Amendment)(No 2) Bill 2012 was published in July 2012. The Bill passed Report and Final stages in the Dáil in July 2013 and is currently before the Seanad.

Section 134 of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 provides that landlords must register each tenancy of a dwelling. The current registration fee for each tenancy is €90 and each tenancy must be registered within 1 month from the date of commencement of that tenancy. Where a landlord does not register the tenancy within that 1 month period, section 136(7) of the 2004 Act provides that the fee for a late application is double the registration fee.

The Residential Tenancies (Amendment)(No. 2) Bill 2012 seeks to amend section 137 of the 2004 Act to provide for penalties for late registration on an ascending scale. The purpose of this amendment is both to incentivise early registration and to make the system fairer since under the current provision a landlord who registers a tenancy a year late is subject to the same penalty as a landlord who registers a tenancy a day late. The proposed amendment provides that the late fee will be an additional €20 for each month that the landlord is late registering the tenancy. I intend to propose for a cap on the total late fee that may be charged at Committee stage in the Seanad.

Personal Insolvency Act

Questions (495)

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

495. Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will provide figures in tabular form for the number of personal insolvency arrangements that have been put in place to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5102/14]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Insolvency Service of Ireland (ISI) has indicated that in the interest of confidentiality it will not be providing details or breakdowns of the numbers of applications for the various debt relief solutions received or being processed at this time. The ISI fully intends to provide quarterly statistics once a statistically meaningful number of applications have been processed. This is anticipated to be in the second quarter of 2014.

Animal Welfare

Questions (496)

John Lyons

Question:

496. Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the cases currently before the courts under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013; the number of prosecutions under the new powers of this Act; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4885/14]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy is aware, the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 is a matter for my colleague the Minister for Agriculture, Food & the Marine. However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have made enquiries and I am informed that the Act has not yet been commenced but is due to be commenced and to enter effect from the end of February 2014.

Direct Provision System

Questions (497, 498, 499, 535)

Ciara Conway

Question:

497. Deputy Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will provide in tabular form a county breakdown of the number of persons in each of the direct provision centres around the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4893/14]

View answer

Ciara Conway

Question:

498. Deputy Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will provide in tabular form a county breakdown of the number of children in each of the direct provision centres around the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4894/14]

View answer

Ciara Conway

Question:

499. Deputy Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will publish a table specifying a breakdown by county and direct provision centre, the time, in three monthly periods, spent by persons in these centres; the actions he is taking to ensure that persons spend as little time as possible in these facilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4895/14]

View answer

Thomas Pringle

Question:

535. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons currently living in direct provision; if he will provide the details in tabular form by year in which they entered direct provision, to include details of those persons living in direct provision for 36 months and over; and his plans to end housing of asylum seekers in direct provision hostels. [5383/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 497 to 499, inclusive, and 535 together.

The Direct Provision system is managed by the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) of my Department. For the most part, this represents a cashless system with the State assuming responsibility for providing suitable accommodation for asylum seekers on a full board basis. RIA currently provides full board accommodation and ancillary services to 4,376 persons in 34 centres across the State.

In relation to queries such as these, it is important to state that RIA is keen to provide as much detail as is practicable on the system which it is charged with operating. Extensive statistical information is on its website - www.ria.gov.ie - including, on a monthly basis, details of the number of persons residing in each direct provision centre. The December 2013 monthly report has just been published on the website.

RIA also publishes its Annual Reports on the website, covering the years from 2007 to 2012 inclusive. They provide a variety of additional information, including a breakdown of the adults and children in each direct provision centre and the length of time persons, overall, have been residing in the direct provision system. The 2013 Annual Report is currently being compiled and will be published before the end of March, 2014.

In advance of the 2013 Report being published, RIA has published on its website preliminary statistics showing, inter alia, the length of time spent overall in the Direct Provision system by residents as at 31 December, 2013. This, along with the published monthly statistics, provides most of the information sought in these questions. As things stand, RIA does not publish statistics on the length of time spent by persons in individual centres or in three monthly increments. That level of detail would be considered unnecessary as residents are not allocated to or between centres based on time spent in the system. Therefore, it is statistically likely that the overall breakdown shown in the annual and monthly reports would apply broadly to residents in each centre. Nonetheless, the provision of the additional statistics sought in these questions will be considered in the context of the 2013 Report currently being compiled.

RIA itself has no function in determining whether someone should stay or not in its accommodation. Its function is to provide accommodation and ancillary services to those who have sought international protection and who otherwise have no means of supporting themselves.

I have no desire to have applicants remain in the system any longer than the minimum period it takes to process their case. However, ultimately a balance has to be struck between maintaining the integrity of the State’s protection and immigration systems and the case put forward by the individual applicant all of which must be considered within the legal requirements and obligations. In the first instance requirements are set-down in primary and secondary legislation and these requirements are constantly evolving taking into account interpretation of the law by the Courts at both national and EU level.

I acknowledge that the length of time that residents spend in Direct Provision is an issue to be addressed. An amended Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill, which I will introduce should substantially simplify and streamline the existing arrangements for asylum, subsidiary protection and leave to remain applications. It will do this by making provision for the establishment of a single application procedure, so that applicants can be provided with a final decision on all aspects of their protection application in a more straight forward and timely fashion.

Pending the enactment and commencement of the new legislation and with a view to improving processing, I recently signed into law a Statutory Instrument to introduce new procedures for the processing of subsidiary protection applications by the Offices of the Refugee Applications Commissioner at first instance and, on appeal, by the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

Firearms Licences

Questions (500)

Michael Lowry

Question:

500. Deputy Michael Lowry asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the process for the regulation of shooting ranges here; if the concerns of members of the public are taken into consideration when examining an application for a licence for same; if there is a public consultation; if there is an appeals process; if there is a required distance between the proposed shooting range and homes, farms and schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4970/14]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The process by which a target shooting range is authorised for use is a two stage process which involves the Firearms Range Inspector within the Department of Justice and Equality and the Commissioner of An Garda Síochána. The Firearms Range Inspector must first certify that the range complies with the relevant legislation. Statutory Instrument No. 622 of 2011 Firearms (Authorisation of Rifle or Pistol Shooting Ranges) Regulations 2011 was introduced in 2011 following a study of best international practice for target shooting range construction. The instrument specifies the minimum standards for the design, construction and maintenance of target shooting ranges. (It does not apply to either clay pigeon shooting ranges or to hunting).

These regulations require the range owner to demonstrate:

(a) that the facility is built and maintained in accordance with best international practice;

(b) that rules for the management and operation of the range are in place that promote the safety of the general public, spectators and participants in activities taking place at the range;

(c) that shooting is carried out under the direct supervision of appropriately qualified personnel;

(d) that all projectiles discharged on the range come to rest within the confines of the range; and

(e) appropriate records are maintained regarding the running of the facility.

The certification process must be completed before an authorisation for the use of the range may be granted by the Commissioner of An Garda Síochána. Planning permission and related matters are the function of the local authority in whose area a shooting range is located.

Legal Aid Applications

Questions (501)

Michael Lowry

Question:

501. Deputy Michael Lowry asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the current waiting time to access legal aid in County Tipperary, both north and south; the way this compares nationally; if his attention has been drawn to the distress and upset being caused to those awaiting legal assistance; if he is aware of the detrimental impact this delay is having on those in financial distress, for example, with mortgage repayments; if he will sanction further staff to tackle this backlog; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4971/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I wish to inform the Deputy that there is no waiting period associated with the granting of criminal legal aid as under the Criminal Justice (Legal Aid) Act 1962, the Courts, through the judiciary, are responsible for the granting of legal aid upon the applicant's appearance in Court.

In relation to civil legal aid, it should be noted that the demand for legal services from the Legal Aid Board (the Board) has increased significantly since the down-turn in the economy. While there was a 10% drop in demand at the general law centres in 2012 compared to 2011, nevertheless the demand for general legal services (excluding asylum) in 2011 was 93% greater than it was in 2006. Demand in 2013 was similar to what it was in 2012. The Board has not been subject to the sort of cuts to its grant-in-aid that other public service bodies have had to experience and I have been able to maintain the Board’s grant-in-aid at the same level for 2014 as it was in the previous three years.

Nevertheless it is a challenging environment that has resulted in lengthened waiting times for those seeking legal services for matters that are not prioritised. I know that waiting times are a matter of constant concern to the Board and that it keeps them under very active review. I am also aware that the Board is constantly keeping the delivery of its services under review with a view to getting legal services to those most in need of them as quickly as possible.

Notwithstanding the pressures on resources, the Government has further supported the Board by approving exemptions from the moratorium to enable the organisation to recruit front-line staff for direct service delivery. The Public Appointments Service concluded a solicitor recruitment competition for the Board last year from which a number of permanent appointments have been made and a number of temporary positions have also been filled.

In September 2013 I signed into law by way of Regulations, a package of proposals from the Board for the revision of the financial eligibility and contributions provisions governing the granting of civil legal aid. The Regulations include a reduction in the capital eligibility threshold for legal services and they also include increases in the contributions payable by most persons seeking legal services. These provisions should have some impact, albeit relatively marginal, on the resources available to the Board.

In response to the changed environment the Board has taken steps to try and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the delivery of its legal services. Those steps include the following:

- The Board has been piloting a ‘triage’ approach to service delivery and this approach is operative in most of its centres at this stage. The pilot is in response to lengthening waiting times. The aim of the ‘triage’ approach is that every applicant gets to see a solicitor within a period of one month for the purpose of getting legal advice (consultations are broadly limited to 45 minutes). If the applicant requires further services they remain on the 'waiting list'. There is or has been a 'backlog' of applicants to be seen for triage purposes hence it is taking time to reduce the waiting time for such an appointment to one month. You will find as an appendix to this response, the waiting times in the various law centres for matters that are not prioritised. Where the triage approach is operative there is a waiting time for the triage appointment and a waiting time for the second consultation. A first review of the operation of the pilot indicated that clients were satisfied with this particular service initiative. This was because they got early access to a solicitor for advice on their legal disputes that provided clarity about the options open to them and the process through which their disputes might be resolved.

- In August 2012 the Board introduced a new case management system in its law centres. This is a ‘start to end’ system which will in the medium term deliver efficiencies in terms of the administration aspect as well as in relation to the delivery of the legal services. It will take time for the full benefits of this system to materialise;

- In November 2011 I transferred responsibility for the management and administration of the State funded family mediation service to the Board. A key reason for this transferring was to improve the synergies between the State funded family mediation services and the State funded civil legal aid services (most of the demand for legal services is in the area of family law). Improving the synergies will be for the benefit of the customer and will help move away from a ‘litigation first’ approach that may on occasion be too common. Already there are very positive signs from a pilot initiative operating in Dolphin House (where the Dublin District Family Court sits) involving the co-location of the courts and a mediation service with a legal service located there also. Similar initiatives have now been introduced in Cork and Naas and are being evaluated. I know that the Board is working particularly hard on promoting mediation as a meaningful option;

- While the Board's asylum related legal services were previously funded from a separate grant, since 2012 I have funded the Board on the basis of a single ‘grant-in-aid’. With the drop in demand for asylum, the Board has taken steps to integrate the delivery of its asylum related services into the general law centre service delivery model thus effectively transferring resources from the asylum area to the general legal service area where the demands have increased;

- I am aware that the Board has maintained a high level of usage of private solicitors for family law cases in the District Court. Cases in the District Court are often those that need the most immediate remedy;

- I am also aware that the Board continues to engage with other key players in the justice / legal area such as the Courts Service and the Health Service Executive, with a view to trying to ensure that State funded resources that impact on its area of business are used to best effect.

I am very conscious of the difficulties that delays in accessing legal aid can give rise to and I am aware that the Board is also keenly aware of those difficulties and is working to ensure the delays are minimised to the greatest extent possible.

Appendix

Waiting times in Law Centres as of 1 January 2014

Law Centre

General – Law centres not operating triage

Waiting time for a triage appointment

Further waiting time where triage appointment previously given

Months

Months

Months

Blanchardstown

4

Brunswick St

8

3

Clondalkin

1

8

Finglas

9

0

Gardiner St

0

20

Tallaght

2

13

Popes Quay

8

South Mall

12

2

Athlone

7

0

Castlebar

2

7

Cavan

3

2

Dundalk

4

Ennis

10

5

Galway- Francis St

5

14

Galway – Seville H

2

3

Kilkenny

1

11

Letterkenny

3

17

Limerick

9

Longford

4

4

Monaghan

4

Navan

4

6

Nenagh

1

6

Newbridge

1

19

Portlaoise

8

14

Sligo

2

12

Tralee

4

Tullamore

4

Waterford

6

Wexford

11

Wicklow

2

Appointments to State Boards

Questions (502)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

502. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will itemise in tabular form the occasions on which his Department has engaged the services of external professional advice, such as a company (details supplied), on the appointment of persons to State boards; if he will list the fees paid in respect of such services; the persons who were ultimately appointed on foot of advice received; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4991/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I wish to advise the Deputy that there are no records in my Department which indicate that the named company provided advice in relation to the appointment of persons to State Boards.

Appointments to State Boards

Questions (503)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

503. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will identify any instances where a person appointed to a State board after recruitment advice was received from professional external consultants was subsequently deemed to be unqualified for the duties and responsibilities attached to the role; the costs incurred in obtaining advice in respect of each such instance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5007/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I wish to inform the Deputy that there have been no instances in my Department where a person appointed to a State Board, after recruitment advice was received from professional external consultants, was subsequently deemed to be unqualified for the duties and responsibilities attached to the role.

Anti-Social Behaviour

Questions (504)

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

504. Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his attention has been drawn to the reported anti-social behaviour problems in a town (details supplied) in County Meath; the measures that are being taken to tackle the problem; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5049/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the area referred to is within the Kells Garda District. Local Garda management is aware of the incidents referred to by the Deputy and I am advised that appropriate strategies are in place to prevent crime, and to respond to any public order offences and anti-social behaviour at that location. The area in question is regularly patrolled by local uniform patrols, which are augmented by the Regular and Detective Units from the District Headquarters of Kells together with the Divisional Traffic Unit and the Regional Support Unit as required.

Local Garda Management closely monitors the allocation of resources in the context of crime trends, policing needs and other operational strategies in place on a District, Divisional and Regional level, to ensure optimum use is made of Garda resources and the best possible Garda service is provided to the public. I am informed that local Garda management is satisfied that a comprehensive policing service continues to be delivered and that current structures in place meet the requirement to deliver an effective and efficient policing service to the community

Legislative Briefings

Questions (505)

Heather Humphreys

Question:

505. Deputy Heather Humphreys asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will provide an update on the progress of the Criminal Legal Aid Bill; if consideration will be given to withdrawing free legal aid for repeat offenders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5051/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Criminal Justice (Legal Aid) Bill is currently at drafting stage with work ongoing. This new legislation will update and strengthen the system of granting legal aid including transferring responsibility for the administration of the Scheme to the Legal Aid Board. Consideration is being given to including in the Bill provisions to, inter alia, regulate better the taking of statements of means, increase the sanction for false declarations, allow the Board to verify the means of applicants and to prosecute cases of abuse. Provision to give power to the Legal Aid Board to recover the costs of criminal legal aid or to make application to a court to revoke a criminal legal aid certificate are also under consideration. These provisions must have regard to a person's rights to the presumption of innocence, to a fair trial and to be given legal aid where appropriate.

The present legislation, the Criminal Justice (Legal Aid) Act 1962, provides that free legal aid may be granted in certain circumstances for the defence of persons of insufficient means in criminal proceedings. Under the 1962 Act, the courts, through the judiciary, are responsible for the granting of legal aid. An applicant must establish to the satisfaction of the court that his/her means are insufficient to enable him/her to pay for legal representation him/herself. The court must also be satisfied that, by reason of the "gravity of the charge" or "exceptional circumstances", it is essential in the interests of justice that the applicant should have legal aid. An applicant's previous convictions are not a criterion for access to legal aid under the Act. I have no function in these matters which are determined by the judiciary.

Under the Constitution, the State is obliged to provide an accused person with the means to obtain appropriate legal representation. Moreover, the European Convention on Human Rights provides that every person charged with a criminal offence is entitled to defend him/herself in person or through legal assistance of his/her own choosing or, if he/she has insufficient means to pay for legal assistance, to be given it free when the interests of justice so require. The Deputy will also appreciate that the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme must operate with due regard to these rights and that any unreasonable block on legal aid could give a convicted defendant an avenue for appeal or prohibition of the prosecution. The overriding concern is to ensure that no risk arises in relation to the prosecution of persons charged with criminal offences before the courts.

Data Protection

Questions (506)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

506. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if the changing nature of the information which is contained on IT hardware that may be seized by the Revenue Sheriff is presenting a direct conflict with existing data protection legislation, in particular, the obligation placed upon data holders to ensure that third party data is held securely and privately and the fact that this obligation becomes impossible to adhere to when equipment has been seized; if he is planning amending legislation to address this matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5084/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As I stated in responses to earlier Parliamentary Questions from the Deputy, Revenue Sheriffs are subject to the provisions of the Data Protection Acts 1988 and 2003. This means, for example, that they must take appropriate security measures against unauthorised access to, or unauthorised alteration, disclosure or destruction of personal data coming into their possession. Where computer equipment containing personal data has been seized, such data should be returned under secure conditions to the person from whom the equipment was seized unless there is a legitimate reason for non-return of the data. The Data Protection Acts 1988 and 2003 are in full compliance with the European Union's Data Protection Directive.

Court Accommodation Provision

Questions (507)

Clare Daly

Question:

507. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his position regarding the closure of the courthouse in Balbriggan; when this will take place; the alternative uses that will be made of this prominent building in the town; and the alternative arrangements that are in place for District Court hearings. [5099/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As Deputy may be aware, under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts, including the provision of accommodation for court sittings, is the responsibility of the Courts Service which is independent in exercising its functions.

However, in order to be of assistance, I had enquiries made and have been informed that during 2013 the Courts Service undertook a review of court services in the greater Dublin Area which included Balbriggan District Court. The purpose of the review was to examine options to ensure that the Courts Service can continue to maintain an appropriate level of front line services to court users throughout Dublin city and county. The Minister has been advised that the review is still under consideration by the Courts Service and no definitive proposals have been formulated in relation to any court venue being reviewed, including Balbriggan District Court.

The Courts Service has indicated, in principle, that if a decision is made not to continue court sittings in Balbriggan and subject to the approval of the Courts Service Board, then the Courts Service could consider offering the building to the local authority for use. It should be noted that the final decision in relation to the closure of any venue is entirely a matter for the Board of the Courts Service.

Garda Operations

Questions (508)

John Lyons

Question:

508. Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if a report was received from Garda authorities on the problem of bicycle theft in Dublin and an initiative undertaken recently in the UK; and if such an operation will be given further consideration by An Garda Síochána. [5116/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

In my reply to the Deputy's question no. 155 of 17 October 2013 I set out details of initiatives being taken by An Garda Síochána in Dublin in relation to the theft of bicycles. I have received a further report from the Garda authorities on this matter and the Garda approach and that being adopted under the UK initiative referred to by the Deputy include many common features. These include high visibility patrols, surveillance, intelligence led operations and bicycle registration initiatives.

The Garda approach includes identifying areas of high volume theft of bicycles so that a targeted operational approach is taken to prevent and detect such crimes. Gardaí in the Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR) engage in high visibility patrols and conduct surveillance in identified hotspots. Mountain Bike patrols are utilised in the vicinity of schools and other vulnerable areas. I am advised that one such targeted operation, Operation Spoke, has led to the arrest of seven suspects and the recovery of over forty bicycles. Gardaí are also involved in initiatives to divert individuals involved in this type of crime including an initiative between Gardaí at the Bridewell Garda Station and the M.O.S.T project, a Youth Diversion Programme aimed at individuals who had come to the attention of Gardaí for their involvement in bicycle theft. This project is set to continue through 2014 and will now be run as a joint project between Gardaí, the M.O.S.T project and a local bicycle retailer.

An Garda Síochána also provide crime prevention advice to members of the public and focused presentations are made to Neighbourhood Watch Schemes, policing fora, primary and secondary schools and local office complexes, and consultation also takes place with apartment management companies. Further analysis is being conducted in relation to areas particularly affected by bicycle theft to help enhance crime prevention measures and the tracking of stolen bicycles.

Specially designed information leaflets with crime prevention information have been distributed through bicycle advisory checkpoints and the use of a bicycle sticker campaign in areas where bicycles are locked. In addition, An Garda Síochána are engaging with bicycle retailers to encourage and promote Bicycle Registration Schemes.

Road Traffic Accidents Data

Questions (509)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

509. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of drivers involved in a fatal or serious road collision in the 12 months of 2013; the number of drivers involved in such collisions whose alcohol level was tested at the scene of the collision or afterwards in a Garda station or hospital; and in circumstances where the alcohol level of drivers involved in fatal or serious collisions was not tested, the reasons for not having carried out the tests. [5117/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I have made enquiries with the Garda authorities in relation to the information sought by the Deputy. I will be in contact with the Deputy when this information is to hand.

Court Procedures

Questions (510)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

510. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 500 of 21 January 2014, if he will provide a breakdown based on each court district of the number of drivers in each month of 2013 who appeared in court charged with offences under the Road Traffic Acts and incurred penalty points but avoided convictions because they agreed to make a donation to the court poor box. [5118/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The court poor box is a non-statutory system used mostly by the District Courts to impose a financial charge on a defendant to be used for a charitable purpose, usually instead of imposing a criminal conviction. Payments made to the court poor box are accounted for by the court office concerned and the accounting procedures are subject to audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General. Generally, charities are the recipients of poor box contributions but the decision is solely at the discretion of the Judge who is independent in the matter of sentencing, as in other matters concerning the exercise of judicial functions, subject only to the Constitution and the law.

In order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the following table shows the number of defendants recorded on the Courts Service Criminal Case Tracking System who were before the court for offences under the Road Traffic Acts incurring penalty points in each court district in 2013 and the outcome of whose cases involved payments to the Court Poor Box. None of these people were convicted of the offences.

District Number

Jan.

Feb.

Mar.

Apr.

May

June

July

Aug.

Sept.

Oct.

Nov.

Dec.

Total

District No 1

6

15

3

3

9

-

1

-

4

6

1

1

49

District No 2

27

19

7

21

8

7

7

-

18

17

6

5

142

District No 3

-

1

1

1

-

-

1

-

1

5

1

1

12

District No 4

7

5

1

6

4

-

2

-

2

3

26

3

59

District No 5

8

4

9

8

4

3

2

-

5

5

16

9

73

District No 6

-

3

2

-

-

4

2

-

1

-

3

1

16

District No 7

-

-

-

-

2

-

-

-

-

-

1

3

6

District No 8

-

-

-

1

-

2

-

-

-

-

-

-

3

District No 9

6

8

4

11

14

8

7

-

5

6

2

9

80

District No 10

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

District No 12

2

8

7

4

5

5

17

-

3

18

7

12

88

District No 13

35

32

10

24

32

15

21

-

13

12

23

5

222

District No 15

2

-

2

5

4

1

2

-

3

5

1

2

27

District No 16

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

District No 17

1

4

8

10

15

16

20

-

12

36

29

46

197

District No 18

12

10

5

10

13

14

5

-

14

5

10

6

104

District No 19

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

District No 20

26

10

6

17

18

23

19

-

9

23

32

11

194

District No 21

4

6

6

5

6

7

4

-

5

8

11

8

70

District No 22

-

-

1

1

2

4

1

-

3

1

1

1

15

District No 23

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

District No 24

6

11

1

8

4

-

-

-

-

1

-

-

31

District No 25

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Dublin Metro- politan District

41

21

23

31

37

32

18

-

31

47

64

21

366

Total

183

157

96

166

177

141

129

-

129

198

234

144

1754

At its meeting today, the Government approved the drafting of the Criminal Justice (Community Sanctions) Bill, which will replace the Probation of Offenders Act 1907 with modern provisions dealing with community sanctions and the role of the Probation Service in the criminal justice system. It is intended that the legislation will provide for a statutory Reparation Fund to replace the Court Poor Box, as recommended by the Law Reform Commission in its 2005 report The Court Poor Box: Probation of Offenders. The details of the proposed Bill will be announced in due course.

Garda Operations

Questions (511)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

511. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 501 of 21 January 2014, if the moneys recouped by An Garda Síochána for policing services at various events in 2012 and 2013 related to policing provided by full-time members of An Garda Síochána and members of the Garda Reserve; and, if members of the Garda Reserve were involved in policing events for which money was recouped, to indicate the number of members of the Reserve on duty at these events. [5125/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the functions of Garda Reserve members include certain duties at major events and that the services of members of the Reserve are included in the figures referred to by the Deputy. However, I am further advised that details of the number of Reserve members involved are not readily available and that the provision of this information would require a disproportionate use of Garda resources.

Garda Reports

Questions (512)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

512. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 1129 of 18 September 2013, if the report referred to in the reply is now to hand. [5129/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I have now received a report from the Garda authorities that 12 drivers involved in a fatal collision in 2011 and 7 in 2012 held a learner permit. I am further informed that up to 22 November, 2013, 8 drivers involved in a fatal collision in that year held a learner permit. It should be noted that the figures provided are provisional, operational and liable to change. Road safety continues to be a priority issue in An Garda Síochána's Policing Plan 2014 and involves targeted enforcement measures focussed on high risk behaviour. Specific Garda operations are undertaken with a particular focus on the learner driver to increase awareness and compliance with the overall objective of achieving a sustained reduction in the number of fatal and serious injury collisions on our roads.

Garda Reports

Questions (513)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

513. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 1128 of 18 September 2013, if the report referred to in the reply is now to hand. [5130/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am advised that work to compile the information requested is near completion and I have requested the Garda authorities to expedite this matter as soon as possible. I will contact the Deputy directly when the information is to hand.

Garda Reports

Questions (514)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

514. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 161 of 20 November 2013, if the report referred to in the reply is now to hand. [5131/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I have received a report from the Garda authorities who, after examination, inform me that the information requested by the Deputy relating to the number of Garda checkpoints which included other State Agencies carried out in the Garda R and J Districts in the years 2011, 2012 and to 20 November, 2013 is not recorded centrally and the precise number of such checkpoints cannot be ascertained without a disproportionate use of Garda resources. I am, however, further informed that approximately 30 such multi-agency checkpoints were conducted in the Garda R and J Districts between 2011 and 22 November, 2013.

Garda Operations

Questions (515)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

515. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 807 of 5 November 2013, if the report referred to in the reply is now to hand. [5132/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The information sought by the Deputy has now been received from An Garda Síochána and is set out in the following tables.

Fireworks Offences Incidents recorded, detected with proceedings commenced and convictions recorded for years 2011 to 2013.

Year

Recorded

Detected

Proceedings Commenced

Convictions

2013

142

89

6

2

2012

258

163

30

14

2011

333

196

32

10

The monetary value of the explosives seized and recorded in these incidents and the number of persons arrested and recorded on the Garda computer system (PULSE) for such incidents is set out beneath:

Year

Value of explosives

No of persons arrested

2013

€12,966

17

2012

€20,420

22

2011

€39,003

26

These figures are operational and liable to change and are correct as of 2 February 2014.