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Question

217. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of bench warrants issued for fines not paid under the Fines Act 2010 by county in each of the years 2014 to 2018, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10268/19]

Answer

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): As the Deputy is aware, 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, which include the provision of information on the courts system.
However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the Courts Service has provided information in the manner in which the statistics are readily available.
The Fines (Payment and Recovery) Act 2014 was enacted in 2014 and commenced on 11th January 2016. The Act provided that when a Judge imposed a fine, he or she could fix the amount and the time allowed for payment.  If the fine remained unpaid the fined person had to be brought back to court where the judge could then make an order for attachment of earnings, for community service or (if the fine was greater than €500, a recovery order). If the fined person did not appear for the enforcement hearing, the judge could issue a bench warrant.
Because of the extensive technical changes that had to be made to Courts Service systems, the first enforcement hearings (i.e. hearings for fixing a default because the fine wasn't paid) were not scheduled until  late 2017.  Therefore no bench warrants relating to the Fines Act were issued in 2014, 2015 or 2016.
The number of bench warrants does not equate to the number of fines. A fined person might be summoned back to court on the same day for multiple fines. If the fined person does not  appear for the hearing, one bench warrant will issue. There will not be a separate bench warrant for each fine.  
Report on the number of bench warrants issued under the Fines Act
Note: A bench warrant may cover a number of offences for that defendant but report only displays one offence.  
Jan -  Dec 2017

Office No of Bench   Warrants issued under the fines act
ATHLONE DISTRICT COURT OFFICE 13
CARLOW DISTRICT COURT OFFICE 27
CARRICK-ON-SHANNON OFFICE 1
CAVAN DISTRICT COURT OFFICE 3
CLONAKILTY DISTRICT COURT OFFICE 31
CLONMEL DISTRICT COURT OFFICE 11
CORK DISTRICT COURT OFFICE 4
DONEGAL DISTRICT COURT OFFICE 2
KILKENNY DISTRICT COURT OFFICE 82
LETTERKENNY DISTRICT COURT OFFICE 6
LONGFORD DISTRICT COURT OFFICE 19
MALLOW DISTRICT COURT OFFICE 19
MONAGHAN DISTRICT COURT OFFICE 6
MULLINGAR DISTRICT COURT OFFICE 13
NENAGH DISTRICT COURT OFFICE 16
SLIGO DISTRICT COURT OFFICE 2
WEXFORD DISTRICT COURT OFFICE 2
Total  257

Jan – Dec 2018
Court Offices No of Bench   Warrants under the fines act
ATHLONE DISTRICT COURT OFFICE 211
BALLINA DISTRICT COURT OFFICE 29
BLANCHARDSTOWN DISTRICT COURT OFFICE 217
BRAY DISTRICT COURT OFFICE 387
CARLOW DISTRICT COURT OFFICE 260
CARRICK-ON-SHANNON OFFICE 39
CASTLEBAR DISTRICT COURT OFFICE 28
CAVAN DISTRICT COURT OFFICE 245
CLONAKILTY DISTRICT COURT OFFICE 49
CLONMEL DISTRICT COURT OFFICE 279
CLOVERHILL COURTHOUSE OFFICE 27
CORK DISTRICT COURT OFFICE 1,261
CRIMINAL COURTS OF JUSTICE 450
DONEGAL DISTRICT COURT OFFICE 56
DUBLIN METROPOLITAN DISTRICT 2,059
DUNDALK DISTRICT COURT OFFICE 23
DUNLAOGHAIRE DISTRICT COURT OFFICE 243
ENNIS DISTRICT COURT OFFICE 398
GALWAY DISTRICT COURT OFFICE 791
KILKENNY DISTRICT COURT OFFICE 676
LETTERKENNY DISTRICT COURT OFFICE 217
LIMERICK DISTRICT COURT OFFICE 1,784
LONGFORD DISTRICT COURT OFFICE 342
LOUGHREA DISTRICT COURT OFFICE 127
MALLOW DISTRICT COURT OFFICE 163
METROPOLITAN CHILDREN'S COURT OFFICE 1
MONAGHAN DISTRICT COURT OFFICE 204
MULLINGAR DISTRICT COURT OFFICE 405
NENAGH DISTRICT COURT OFFICE 194
PORTLAOISE DISTRICT COURT OFFICE 67
ROSCOMMON DISTRICT COURT OFFICE 71
SLIGO DISTRICT COURT OFFICE 161
SWORDS DISTRICT COURT OFFICE 166
TULLAMORE DISTRICT COURT OFFICE 134
WATERFORD DISTRICT COURT OFFICE 208
WEXFORD DISTRICT COURT OFFICE 518
YOUGHAL DISTRICT COURT OFFICE 76
Total 12,566