24th July 2012
Writing in the Irish Examiner, Cormac O'Keeffe reports that there were 4,470 committals for non-payment of fines in the first six months of 2012. The article reveals that full implementation of the Fines Act 2010, which would allow for payment of fines by instalment, is unlikely to happen for another year at least.
Responding to the figures, IPRT has called on all relevant agencies to work together and review how they operate to see whether there can be greater flexibility around the payment of fines during the interim period. IPRT described this continuing practice of imprisoning people for fines default as "expensive and pointless" in thejournal.ie
The numbers imprisoned for non-payment of court-ordered fines have jumped from 1,335 in 2007, to 4,806 in 2009, and to 6,683 in 2010. The total number of committals for fines default in 2011 was 7,514.
Imprisonment for non-payment of court-ordered fines impacts disproportionately on those already experiencing financial hardship. It is no coincidence that imprisonment for fines has soared during the present recession, and it underscores Ireland’s disproportionate punishment of the disadvantaged.