IT system to pay fines by instalments set for autumn

Thu, Mar 8, 2012, 00:00

JUSTICE, DEFENCE AND EQUALITY COMMITTEE:A COMPUTER system allowing fines to be paid by instalments is expected to be in operation by the autumn, Minister for Justice Alan Shatter told an Oireachtas committee yesterday.

The software allowing money to be taken from wages or social welfare payments to pay a debt or fine over time (an attachment order) would also be in place by the end of the year, Mr Shatter told the committee on justice, defence and equality.

Mr Shatter said he was putting the system for attachment orders in place even though the legislation for such fines was not yet published. There was “no sense” in installing the partial fines software and having to revisit it for attachment orders. If it was not in operation by autumn it would be in place by the end of the year, he added.

The IT system being installed at the Courts Service may cost less than the €1 million allocated in the 2012 estimates, he said.

The way the system was calibrated at present, the courts could record a fine in full but there was the “completely illogical position” that if someone offered 50 per cent of a fine, the Courts Service would not take it, he said.

The security of a large-scale European IT system to be introduced in the area of freedom, security and justice was raised by committee chairman Fine Gael TD David Stanton.

He asked if Mr Shatter was satisfied with the security of the system which would retain information on Irish citizens.

The committee was discussing a European agency to be established by the end of the year which will operate an IT system allowing EU exchange of arrest warrant alerts, visa and asylum seeker application data.

“As far as I know there is appropriate provisions for security,” Mr Shatter said. “I know that the security systems are constantly being revised. I assume that that is happening in this context.” The IT agency was based in Tallinn, Estonia, with a back-up in Strasbourg, France, Mr Shatter added.

He was addressing the committee about approval of European regulations including an internal security fund which supports police co-operation. Seeking extra European investment to help combat drug trafficking on the Irish coastline would be given “serious consideration”, said Mr Shatter.

Fianna Fáil TD Dara Calleary asked if extra resources could be sought by Ireland “given the size of coastline and the impossibility of protecting it”.