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'A mockery of the justice system': There are almost 116k outstanding warrants

Many relate to non-payment of fines.

Image: Shutterstock

THERE ARE 115,772 OUTSTANDING warrants on the Garda Pulse system, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has confirmed.

Fitzgerald gave out the information in response to a parliamentary question asked by Fianna Fáil’s justice spokesperson Niall Collins.

The figures are correct as of 30 June. Many relate to non-payment of fines.

Fitzgerald noted that in May 2008 there were approximately 117,000 warrants outstanding and 122,000 in January 2014.

Collins described the issue as “a serious threat to our criminal justice system” and called on Fitzgerald to establish a Garda taskforce to deal with it.

“The failure to upgrade Garda technology and the significant cutbacks to Garda resources has seriously undermined the gardaí’s ability to execute warrant.

Political reactions to Callinans resignation Niall Collins Source: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

“The execution of warrants is the bread and butter of the criminal justice system … This is in effect making orders of our courts and the gardaí totally ineffective.

There is a great concern out there amongst the judiciary and the gardaí that if warrants are continuously left without execution it will make a mockery of the whole criminal justice system.

Speaking in the Dáil, Fitzgerald said: “Difficulties in relation to the execution of warrants have been a matter of concern for many years, with similar or higher numbers outstanding in the past. It is also true to say that this is a long-standing difficulty for many police forces around the world.

While genuine difficulties can arise where it does not prove possible to enforce a warrant, I regard it as a priority that systems are in place to ensure that warrants are enforced as quickly as possible. In this regard, I am advised that An Garda Síochána gives priority to the execution of warrants in respect of serious crime and will continue to do so.

Fitzgerald said warrants generated as a result of non-payment of fines “make up a significant proportion of the total figure”.

Asylum Seekers Reports Frances Fitzgerald Source: fes Fitzgeraldes FitzgeraldPhotocall Ireland

She noted that under the new Fines (Payment and Recovery) Act 2014, which will come into effect later this year, alternatives to imprisonment are now provided for and the aim is to “significantly reduce the number of persons committed for non-payment”.

The minister added that a warrants review group has been “working on means of better managing and enforcing warrants”.

Originally published: 6.02am

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Órla Ryan

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