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Question

514. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the reason the number of persons who failed to pay fines imposed by the courts increased from 20,104 in the three years from 1 January 2013 to 10 January 2016 to 84,925 in the period from 11 January 2016 to March 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13321/19]

515. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he is satisfied that the Fines (Payment and Recovery) Act 2014 is operating effectively in view of the fact that only 28 attachment of earnings orders or recovery orders were made against persons who failed to pay court fines imposed since the introduction of the Act in January 2016 and in view of the fact that the number of unpaid fines has quadrupled since its introduction; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13322/19]

Answer

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I propose to take Questions Nos. 514 and 515 together.
The Fines (Payment and Recovery) Act 2014 was enacted on 16 th April 2014 and commenced on 11 th January 2016. This made significant changes to fines payment and default procedures including abolishing default orders and introducing alternative ways to deal with unpaid fines.
It is therefore not possible to compare the present regime introduced in Jan 2016 to the period from 1st Jan 2013 to 10 th January 2016, due to the fact that prior to the introduction of the 2014 Fines Act, Court orders imposing the payment of a fine included a default period of imprisonment if the fine was not paid.
I am aware that issues have been experienced in the implementation of the Act, which was introduced as a reforming and progressive measure and was widely supported in the Oireachtas. My Department has been working with stakeholders including An Garda Síochána and the Courts Service to identify what steps can be taken to address enforcement matters. As a result of this process , I have formed the view that a review of the Act is necessary, having regard to its policy objectives and the enforcement issues that have arisen, and my Department will be commencing this review with the key stakeholders shortly.
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. The Courts are, subject only to the Constitution and the law, independent in the exercise of their judicial functions and the conduct of any court case, including the decision to make an attachment order, a recovery order or a community service order is a matter entirely for the presiding judge. While statistics show that at present there are approximately 84,925 persons who have failed to pay fines imposed, the position is that a large number of the outstanding cases are still live before the courts.