179. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the progress that has been made in relation to the Office of Wards of Courts issuing statements of accounts of wards to ensure accountability and transparency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10841/18]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): As the Deputy will be aware, the High Court has jurisdiction in wards of court matters and management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service, which is independent in exercising its functions under the Courts Service Act 1998.
However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the Courts Service has informed me that the Office of Wards of Court commenced issuing statements to Committees of Wards of Court in late September 2017.
Given the nature of the systems in the Office of Wards of Court, involving individual paper files, the process of issuing individual fund statements to each of more than 2,500 cases is quite labour intensive. All data must be checked to ensure it is accurate and up to date and to avoid contravening data protection legislation. The Courts Service has advised that 350 statements have issued to date and the next batch of statements is to issue this month. The Courts Service reiterated that it remains committed to providing all such statements over the coming months.
The Courts Service has further advised that the Registrar of Wards of Court is fully accountable to the President of the High Court in the discharge of his statutory duties and that where queries are received from Committees as to the financial position of an individual ward these are responded to fully in a transparent manner. There is also ongoing engagement between Committees and case officers in the Office of the Wards of Court in relation to all aspects of an individual ward's case, including expenditure.