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539. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his attention has been drawn to the concept of courtroom dogs which are used in the United States of America as a means of assisting and comforting vulnerable witnesses that are required to give evidence; his plans to pilot a similar scheme here; if not, if piloting such a scheme will be considered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25511/18]

Answer

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I have recently been advised by the Victims Rights Alliance organisation that it is engaging with the Court House Dogs Foundation in the United States and also with some European colleagues working on behalf of victims to explore the possibility of securing funding from the European Commission to develop a pilot project on the use of courthouse facility dogs to support child victims of crime in the European Union. The Alliance has further advised officials from my Department that it intends to establish a working group to explore this project further and that, at that point, it would seek representation on the group from representatives from the criminal justice sector as required. Question No. 540 answered with Question No. 450.