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28 Jun 2022

Court fines should be taken from dole money, says Longford councillor

'We are being made to look like mugs': Calls for tougher laws to be brought in

Longford court house.

Defendants who refuse to pay court imposed fines should have monies directly taken from their wages or social welfare.

That was the recommendation made this week by Cllr Gerry Warnock in response to revelations more than two thirds of people convicted at Longford courts are opting against paying fines.

Cllr Warnock said the measure was one which required legislative intervention at a national level.

“Whatever source of income it is, if it's employment based or social welfare it doesn't matter. if you do the crime, you pay the fine,” he said.

A former chairperson of Longford's Joint Policing Committee (JPC) Cllr Warnock's comments come amid revelations hundreds of thousands of euro remain outstanding in unpaid fines.

In a raft of documents obtained by this newspaper under the Freedom of Information Act, Irish Courts Service figures have shown just €176,000 out of a anticipated €537,000 has been recouped between October 2018 and October 2020.

Cllr Warnock said local elected representatives who are calling for tougher penalties to be handed down for litter enforcement are being made to “look like mugs” over the huge anomaly between the figures.

“Here we are looking for stiffer penalties on public order and illegal dumping and then you see the likes of this going on?
“We are only mugs if we don't sit up and take notice of this, it's crazy.

“What's going on is just not good enough.

“There are people who are taking advantage of this and sticking two fingers up to the courts.”

Cllr Warnock was supported in his views by fellow Longford County Councillor Seamus Butler.

The Fianna Fáil local represenatative and chairperson of Longford's Joint Policing Committee (JPC) said it was indicative of a system which was in need of urgent review.

Like Cllr Warnock, the local businessman reiterated the claims of his independent counterpart for government bosses to enact more draconian legislation to ensure fines are paid without delay.

“There is only one way and one solution to this and that's by bringing in garnashee orders on income,” he said.

“If this is done then it might finally stop this charade of where certain people are brought down to Castlerea (Prison) for an hour or two because what is going on at the minute is a ludicrous situation.”

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