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Departmental Agencies.

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 6 May 2009

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Ceisteanna (304, 305)

Liz McManus

Ceist:

349 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if a bonus was paid to management in the Legal Aid Board; the amount of bonus given per manager; the total amount given; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17562/09]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform)

I assume that the Deputy's question relates to the high level scheme of performance-related awards for senior civil servants at Assistant Secretary, Deputy Secretary and equivalent grades and Chief Executives of agencies. The only official in the Legal Aid Board to whom this scheme would apply is the Chief Executive Officer. However, no such payment has been made to him in respect of 2008 and, on 5 February last, the Minister for Finance announced that the Government has decided to abolish these performance awards subject to discussions on the implementation of the decision with the relevant staff association.

Liz McManus

Ceist:

350 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to the attendance of the Legal Aid Board at a conference in New Zealand; the person who paid for the various travel expenses for this trip; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17563/09]

Amharc ar fhreagra

I am informed that the conference in question was the biennial conference of the International Legal Aid Group (ILAG) and it was held in New Zealand just last April. The ILAG was originally established in 1992 to provide a forum where national experts involved in the area of legal aid could exchange views and examine common issues and challenges facing legal aid providers in a number of jurisdictions. Since the mid 1990s, the ILAG has hosted biennial conferences to facilitate these discussions. The Legal Aid Board was represented at this year's conference by its Chairperson and its Chief Executive. The travel expenses of the board's representatives were met from its own resources. I am advised that they were fully in line with Civil Service travel and subsistence norms and I am advised that costs were kept to an absolute minimum.

I understand that the Legal Aid Board has participated in these biennial conferences since the late 1990s and, indeed, hosted the 2005 event in Killarney. The board is of the view that, by allowing it to draw on international experience, the conference makes a positive contribution in terms of informing the board's own thinking on a wide range of important operational and strategic issues. This year's conference covered a wide range of topics of relevance to the Irish experience. Both the Chairperson and Chief Executive were very much involved in the conference by way of chairing or facilitating sessions over the three days of the forum as well as presenting the national report on legal aid in Ireland.

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