Wednesday 20 September 2017

Reports on wards of courts fund performance delayed

Tanaiste Frances Fitzgerald Photo: Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney
Tanaiste Frances Fitzgerald Photo: Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney
Gavin McLoughlin

Gavin McLoughlin

Families of wards of court who were promised individual statements on the performance of wards' funds by the end of last year will now have to wait until the third quarter of this year.

Wards of court are people judged by a court to be incapable of managing their own financial affairs, and the Courts Service is responsible for managing their money.

Controversy has arisen in the past over the performance of funds in which wards' money had been invested, and Tanaiste Frances Fitzgerald told the Dail last September that individual statements on the performance of ward's funds would be issued at the end of 2016.

The statements were to be issued to so-called committees - a person or persons appointed by the courts to act on the ward's behalf subject to the court's instructions. Such committees often include family members.

"The wards of court office is putting in place a new system whereby statements are sent automatically to the representatives of wards of court," a Courts Service spokesman said.

"Work is ongoing to enable these statements to be issued. The current records, over 2,800 cases, are manual and to ensure accuracy and indeed, to avoid data protection breaches, all data is being carefully checked. This process is taking longer than anticipated and as a consequence, the provision of these statements will commence from the third quarter of 2017.

"In the meantime the wards of court office is already providing, and will continue to provide, individual statements on request from the committees of wards of court."

A spokeswoman for the Justice for Wards group which campaigns on behalf of wards of court said the delay was "impossible to accept" and urged people with an interest in the area to contact the group.

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