Justice budget cut by €62 million
The Department of Justice budget for next year has been cut by €62 million, with savings being sought through the reduction of Garda overtime and other payroll and efficiency measures.
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said the gross expenditure budget of over €2.26 billion being provided for 2013 was “evidence of the Government’s commitment to the justice sector in difficult financial times”.
The budget for Garda overtime will be reduced by €10 million next year, and a further €36 million will be saved through reductions in Garda pay.
Some €2.8 million will be saved in the Prison Service, €0.8 million in the Courts Service, and a further €12 million through cuts to administrative services in other agencies linked to the Department.
Mr Shatter said the funding allocation for 2013, despite reductions, would be “spent in the fairest and most effective way possible to deliver the crucial front-line services required from the sector”.
The budget reduction “copperfastens the importance of the commitment of the Garda Commissioner and An Garda Síochána to smart policing, using available resources wisely and ensuring that the maximum number of Gardaí are available for front-line policing”, he added.
Under the Annual Policing Plan for 2013, also published today, the Minister announced the closure of 100 Garda stations across the State as part of continuing efforts to restructure policing services.
He said “small cash savings” would be made as a result of the closures, but that was “not the primary objective”.
More than 62 per cent of the funding for justice is allocated to the Garda Siochana, €5 million of which will be used to invest in modernising the Garda transport fleet.
Some €7.5 million has been provided for the establishment of Insolvency Service Ireland, which will “complement related legislative changes to rules around insolvency and satisfy commitments under the EU/IMF agreement”, the Minister said.
The allocation of €333.8 million for prisons includes €24 million for construction work on a new prison in Cork, which is to begin in 2013, as well as other refurbishment and construction works in Mountjoy and Limerick Prisons.
The Minister said the priorities for the Department in 2013 would be the publication of the Criminal Justice (Forensic Evidence and DNA Database System) Bill, due in January, and the enactment of the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions) Bill, which allows for certain convictions that carry sentences of up to a maximum of one year to be expunged after between three and seven years, depending on the offence.
A Courts Bill will also be published to allow the media to report on family law cases, the Minister said.