In July 2012, there were 124,000 bench warrants outstanding and as of the first quarter of this year, the figure is approximately 113,000, Fianna Fáil’s Justice Spokesman Deputy Niall Collins told the Dáil.
Speaking during Question Time, he said that is unjustifiable and indicative of a major dysfunction. “The people impacted the most are victims of crime, and we must be most concerned about them,” he said.
“The information which the Minister has provided points to a continuing major dysfunction in the execution of bench warrants, particularly as such warrants are the bread and butter upon which the criminal justice system works when judges are ordering people to appear before them or in committing people to prison,” he said. “If that plank of our criminal justice system is breaking down to the degree described, the figures must serve as a wake-up call to the Minister and her Government.”
In response, the Minister said genuine difficulties can arise where it does not prove possible to enforce a warrant and it is important that systems are in place to ensure that warrants are enforced as quickly as possible.
“In this regard, I have been assured that An Garda Síochána gives priority to the execution of warrants in respect of serious crime and will continue to do so,” he said. “I am conscious that difficulties in the execution of warrants have been a matter of concern over many years. It is also true that this is a longstanding difficulty for many police forces around the world. I welcome the analysis provided by the Garda Síochána Inspectorate on warrants in the recent crime investigation report.”
O’Donovan seeks update in aftermath of Garth Brooks concerts fiasco
The timeframe for legislative proposals to be brought forward to address this anomaly to ensure concert promoters and venue owners are not discommoded in the fashion in which the GAA and the concert promoter were by Dublin City Council last summer was sought in the Dáil by Limerick Fine Gael Deputy Patrick O’Donovan.
“In the aftermath of the fiasco that was the licence for the Garth Brooks concerts last summer, a commitment was given to review the legislation on licensing events of this nature,” he said. “In the recent past an announcement was made that a concert will be held in Croke Park next summer.”
In response Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he could “strike a good note” for Deputy O’Donovan.
“The review group has been established and comprises nominees representing the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, South Dublin County Council, Dublin City Council, Meath County Council, Cork City Council, Laois County Council, Kildare County Council, Fáilte Ireland, the Garda Síochána, the HSE and the chief fire officer,” he said. “The first meeting of the review group took place on 23 October, when the current system was discussed and analysed. Event promoters have been invited to present their experience to the group during the second meeting, which is due to take place next week. The public consultation process is under way and will end on 28 November. The Minister, Deputy Kelly, expects to receive recommendations from the group before the end of the year.”