Hit those who don’t pay fines ‘in the pocket’ - Limerick councillor

Donal O’Regan

Reporter:

Donal O’Regan

Cllr Sean Lynch
THE majority of the 115,772 outstanding warrants on the Garda Pulse system are for the non-payment of fines, says Cllr Sean Lynch.

THE majority of the 115,772 outstanding warrants on the Garda Pulse system are for the non-payment of fines, says Cllr Sean Lynch.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald revealed the information last week after a parliamentary question by Cllr Lynch’s Fianna Fail colleague - Deputy Niall Collins.

Cllr Lynch, a former detective, said it is a huge cost to the State and waste of garda time for them to be executing penal warrants. He says penal warrants relate to a person being fined in court and the judge ordering they spend a number of days in prison in lieu of not paying the fine.

A penal warrant is then sent to the garda station if the monetary sum remains unpaid.

“The gardai then must pick them up and bring them to prison if they haven’t moved or gone underground. I know myself - they come in through the main gate of the prison, they are kept in the waiting room and then 10, 15, 20 minutes later they are out the gap again. They are not even put into a cell. They are home before the gardai.

“It is a huge waste of garda time and what does it cost the State to pick them up?” said Cllr Lynch.

He believes there are many out there “taking advantage of this loophole”.

“There are people out there who know the system inside out. If they are committing offences the only place to hit them is in the pocket. I think that would reduce a lot of those offences,” said Cllr Lynch.

He proposes that penal warrants be taken out of the hands of gardai and leave them only deal with bench and committal warrants.

“Amendments should be made to the Civil Debt (Procedures) Bill to make deductions from the person’s earnings or from their social welfare. The courts should be able to make attachment orders and stop the whole procedure of it going to a warrant,” said Cllr Lynch.