Thursday 29 September 2016

Inefficient fine system gifts publicity to Wallace

Published 11/12/2015 | 02:30

Mick Wallace
Mick Wallace

Had the Government implemented its own, long overdue laws to reform our payment of court fines system, it would not have gifted Independent TDs Mick Wallace and Clare Daly the free publicity blitz they are currently basking in.

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The duo, arrested over their refusal to pay €2,000 court fines for entering a restricted area at Shannon Airport in July 2014, spent less than two hours in prison after wilfully refusing to pay their court-ordered fines.

The cost to the exchequer is significant: garda and prison sources have estimated that a bill in the region of €8,000 was incurred when factors such as fuel, staff costs and administration are taken into account.

Only the inefficiencies of the current system, which sees most fine defaulters avoid custody simply by being processed in prison reception rooms, spared the public the prospect of the TDs absorbing more public resources with a 30-day period in detention.

It is galling to think that had the pair's committal warrants been executed next January, when the Fines (Payments and Recovery) legislation becomes operable, the fines would have simply been deducted from their lucrative Oireachtas salaries without fuss or fanfare.

Deputies Wallace and Daly are, of course, entitled to express their principled objections to the long-standing use, by the US military, of facilities at Shannon Airport.

Many citizens share their concerns, but we expect our lawmakers to uphold the law and not squander critical State resources on expensive legal forays.

The spectre of a defiant Wallace and Daly going to jail was inevitable, given their declared intention not to pay.

But the Government is at fault for the priceless publicity, by failing to modernise our archaic court debt laws.

Irish Independent

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