I propose to take Questions Nos. 514 and 515 together.
The Fines (Payment and Recovery) Act 2014 was enacted on 16th April 2014 and commenced on 11th January 2016. This made significant changes to fines payment and default procedures including abolishing default orders and introducing alternative ways to deal with unpaid fines.
It is therefore not possible to compare the present regime introduced in Jan 2016 to the period from 1st Jan 2013 to 10th January 2016, due to the fact that prior to the introduction of the 2014 Fines Act, Court orders imposing the payment of a fine included a default period of imprisonment if the fine was not paid.
I am aware that issues have been experienced in the implementation of the Act, which was introduced as a reforming and progressive measure and was widely supported in the Oireachtas. My Department has been working with stakeholders including An Garda Síochána and the Courts Service to identify what steps can be taken to address enforcement matters. As a result of this process , I have formed the view that a review of the Act is necessary, having regard to its policy objectives and the enforcement issues that have arisen, and my Department will be commencing this review with the key stakeholders shortly.
Under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service, which is independent in exercising its functions. The Courts are, subject only to the Constitution and the law, independent in the exercise of their judicial functions and the conduct of any court case, including the decision to make an attachment order, a recovery order or a community service order is a matter entirely for the presiding judge. While statistics show that at present there are approximately 84,925 persons who have failed to pay fines imposed, the position is that a large number of the outstanding cases are still live before the courts.