New measures to scrap the court poor box system and replace it with a statutory reparations fund have been met with anger by local district court judge, Seamus Hughes.
The new law will see offenders make payments to provide support to victims of crime, however with over €60,000 a year been provided by the district poor boxes to local charities, it remains unclear whether those payments will continue to charities and community groups.
During last week’s court sitting Judge Hughes said that all the local charities would “lose out” at a result of the new measures, and pointed to the fact that “all donations would end up going to Dublin”.
“As far as this court is concerned, all poor box funds raised in the court district should remain in the court district,” he fumed.
“It has been a great way to raise money for organisations where State grants have been cut. The removal of the court poor box is the removal of a discretion that was very valuable to the court and I can tell you this much; when it does move to Dublin, there will be a lot less appetite for the court poor box in this court.”
Meanwhile, President of St Mel’s Conference, St Vincent de Paul (SVP) said that the removal of court poor distributions to local charities was a “severe blow”.
“We received a substantial amount of money from the poor box and we are very disappointed with the latest developments,” Mr Hussey added.
“Every penny counts to an organisation like SVP because there are so many people struggling to make ends meet at the moment; local charities have already suffered over the controversy in recent weeks with the Central Remedial Clinic (CRC) funding and the removal of the court poor box funding is just another blow to fundraising for needy people in this area.”
In December, Judge Hughes allocated a total of €68,500 from the court’s poor box to charities in Longford, Westmeath and Athlone. €18,000 was distributed in Longford. Lus na Greine Family Resource Centre, Granard received €500 while St Christophers Services was awarded €2,000. Longford Women’s Link received €2,000 and the St Mel’s Conference SVP received €5,000. Judge Hughes awarded Longford Tidy Towns €1,000 while Killoe Newtownforbes Community Project and Longford Town Suburbs Project, LTD both received €1,000 each. Annaly Park Residents Association was awarded €500, while Ballymahon Tidy Towns Task Force and Rath Mhuire & Dolmen Services LTD received €500,.
Other benefactors from the box included St Faithleach’s Minor Club in Lanesboro which received €1,000.