Wednesday, 3 February 2021

Questions (576)

Seán Sherlock

Question:

576. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Justice the amount collected in fines for breaching public health restrictions since the start of the public health restrictions; and the breakdown per county and the areas to which the funds generated from the fines are being allocated in tabular form. [5442/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, responsibility for policing the current Public Health regulations rests with the Garda Commissioner. Further, responsibility for the legislation underpinning the Public Health response lies with my colleague, the Minister for Health.

An Garda Síochána continue to use the 'Four E's' approach in line with their strong tradition of community policing and policing by consent. This sees Garda members Engage with, Encourage and Educate members of the public on public health advice and regulations, with Enforcement used only as a last resort.

Both the Policing Authority and the Gardaí provide regular reports and updates of An Garda Síochána's efforts during this difficult time and I am pleased to note that both the Authority and the Commissioner have noted high levels of compliance by the public and positive interaction between Gardaí and communities.

The Health (Amendment) Act 2020, which amended the Health Act 1947, was signed into law by the President on 25 October 2020. Regulations providing for a new system of fines under the Act were subsequently signed by the Minister for Health on 21 November 2020. The Act allows for a system of fixed penalty notices for those found in breach of those COVID-19 regulations which have been designated as penal provisions. It also allows for a speedier system of fines, without the requirement for the person to be brought before the Courts and prosecuted, up to a maximum of €500 and a person has 28 days to pay the fine after it is issued. The Deputy will appreciate , the Minister for Finance is responsible for the collection and disbursement of all monies paid in respect of such fines.

I am advised by the Garda authorities that, as of 27 January 2021, there have been a total of 1,862 Covid related fines recorded on the Fixed Charge Processing System (FCPS). The current status of these fines is outlined in the following table.  I understand that the majority of fines, 1,172, are still within the 28 day payment period and there are 602 fines which are being processed for printing and postage.  All six fines which have exceeded the 28 day payment period and were not paid have been sent to the Courts Service for a summons to issue. 

No. of Days

Dublin Region

Eastern Region

North Western Region

Southern Region

Grand Total

Being Processed

103

200

130

169

602

Paid

15

42

7

18

82

Within 28 day payment period

210

404

196

362

1,172

Not Paid - Sent to Courts

2

2

0

2

6

Grand Total

330

648

333

551

1,862

The total amount in paid fines to date is €8,1801 .

Fine Amounts

Dublin Region

Eastern Region

North Western Region

Southern Region

Grand Total

Total

1,500

4,180

700

1,800

8,180

 All figures are operational based on Fixed Payment Notices recorded on FCPS as of 28 January, 2021.

 [1] One related to the non-wearing of a face covering (€80), all others relate to leaving home without a reasonable excuse (€100).