Ensuring that all eligible persons have access to civil legal aid and advice is a priority for the Government and the Legal Aid Board. The Government has prioritised and maintained the Legal Aid Board budget in recent years, ensuring that its budget allocation increased from nearly €30.37m in 2011 to €40.796m for 2019. This represents an increase of over 34%.
As the Deputy will be aware, the statutory position is that the Legal Aid Board provides civil legal aid and advice pursuant to the Civil Legal Aid Act 1995 and the Civil Legal Aid Regulations 1996 to 2016.
The Legal Aid Board periodically reviews the operation of the civil legal aid scheme. The Board has submitted a number of proposals to my Department including in relation to eligibility. My Department is working with the Legal Aid Board in evaluating these proposals with the aim of optimising the ability of the Board to provide civil legal aid to persons of insufficient means. I have already progressed the Board’s proposal for the removal of contributions sought from victims of domestic violence. Statutory Instrument 626 of 2017 gave effect to this from 1 January 2018.