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Irish Examiner: 'Almost 7,000 people jailed for failing to pay fines'

20th December 2011

Writing in the Irish Examiner, Cormac O'Keeffe reports that just under 7,000 people have been imprisoned for failing to pay fines up to the end of November 2011, outlining how a key part of the Fines Act 2010 has not been introduced as funding has not yet been provided for the necessary upgrade to the Courts Service computer system.

The article cites IPRT Executive Director, Liam Herrick:

"The minister has committed to making funds available in 2012 to upgrade the courts’ ICT system to facilitate payment of fines by instalment, and he has stated that it will take 12 months to complete the work. In the meantime, thousands continue to be imprisoned every year — at great cost to the state — and the issue remains urgent.

"IPRT is calling on all agencies to work together and review how they operate the current system to see whether there can be greater flexibility around the payment of fines in the interim period. While it’s up to the agencies themselves to come up with practical solutions, one solution might be if judges could find ways for administering the payment of fines without prescribing automatic penalties of imprisonment for non-payment. There may also be room for flexibility around how the gardaí execute warrants, or the minister could review the possibility of remitting some categories of fines as an exceptional measure."

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