Fianna Fáil Justice Spokesperson Niall Collins has stated that figures revealed today by Minister Fitzgerald that 113,000 warrants remain outstanding in our criminal justice system is a huge blow to victims and the general population’s confidence in our criminal justice system. The figures were revealed during Justice Question Time in the Dáil this afternoon.
Deputy Collins stated: “Figures showing that there are over 113,000 warrants outstanding is a huge blow for people who rely on our criminal justice system for the fair implementation of the rule of law and for victims who must view this figures with a sick feeling in their stomach. Warrants are the bread and butter of the criminal justice system and issued by judges in order to make a citizen appear in court or in certain cases commit them to prison. The fact that thousands of bench warrants remain outstanding is proof that the criminal justice system is in a dysfunctional state.
“Fianna Fáil has been seeking this information from the Minister for Justice and Equality since 23rd September 2014 but every time we sought that information we were told it wasn’t available or that Minister Fitzgerald had “requested a report from the Garda authorities in relation to the matter”. As a result, we raised this matter as a priority in the Dáil today and finally established the figure which is deeply worrying.
“In my opinion, the failure to execute bench warrants is a failure to effectively ensure the criminal justice system is working properly. How are people to take our justice system seriously if the justice system cannot even implement the orders of our courts? I have asked the Minister to draft an action plan to ensure that warrants are executed in good time and where they are not executed that a valid reason be given. What is striking about the Minister’s failure to publish these figures almost two months ago is how no central database exists and how new technology is so badly needed to assist An Garda Síochána in doing their job day to day. I welcome the Minister’s commitment to review the technology provided to the force but more needs to be done to tackle this unacceptable problem.”