Fines being imposed by the local district court are routinely not being paid.
Judge Seamus Hughes became so annoyed by the issue last week that he referred to the court as a “toothless tiger” .
The judge’s comments came during the case of a Longford man who had a number of penal warrants in existence over non payment of fines.
The court was told that the man had spent just one night in jail after just two penal warrants were executed and the defendant was brought to jail.
“It seems to me that there are millions of euros being fined by the court and penal warrants are not being executed,” fumed Judge Hughes.
“The exchequer is then at a loss, because these fines are not being collected.”
The judge went on to say that the defendant before him had not paid his previous fines - a matter that was evident from court files, but also from the defendant who told the judge that he would do time, rather than pay a fine, because “I have no money to be paying fines”.
Judge Hughes then added, “If this man won’t pay his fines, there is no point in me fining him”.
“He will be taken to Castlerea, where they will shake his hand, take his temperature - whatever it is they do, and then let him straight back out the door,” he continued.
It then emerged that a high percentage of fines imposed by Longford District Court had not been paid.
“Definitely a high percentage of people fined in this court are not paying them,” Superintendent Fran Nicholson added. “I don’t think that it would be over 50%, but yes it is high, and I do see where you are coming from judge.”
Judge Hughes then pointed to the lack of power the district court held.
“Non payment of fines is an expense on the taxpayers of this country,” he fumed, adding that it was also an additional expense “driving people to Castlerea” where they may stay a night or two, or they may not.
“It is an empty formula - a toothless tiger imposing fines in the district court; they are not being paid and if we want to reduce crime in this country there must be a deterrent. The district court is a toothless tiger and a waste of taxpayers money and if we want to reduce crime in this country there must be a deterrent. The district court is a toothless tiger and a waste of taxpayers money and that’s just it.”