Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

14.11 16 May 2019


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Court poor boxes paid out €1.73 million to charities, hospitals and sporting organisations in 2018.

The district court in Tralee, Co Kerry contributed €458,000, with a quarter of that (€116,200) being paid to the Society of African Missions (SMA).

The SMA says it received the funds in three amounts, and the money was forwarded to Nigeria to assist their missionary work.

Hundreds of Irish charities benefited from court poor boxes in 2018 - including Cork Simon Community, which was assigned over €65,000.

Figures from the Court Service show Sightsavers International received €60,000.

The Peter McVerry Trust received €39,000, while Cappuchin Day Centre received more than €41,000.

Around three dozen local branches of St Vincent de Paul also benefited.

St Lomans GAA Club in Mullingar, Co Westmeath was the sporting organisation to benefit most from the poor box scheme - receiving €20,000.

According to the Court Service, the poor box option is most often given to defendants in cases related to public order offences.

The service explains: "There are many reasons why the court poor box is used by judges.

"The accused may never previously have been before the courts, the accused may have pleaded guilty, a conviction might be inappropriate or might adversely affect employment or career prospects, or the offence may be of a minor or trivial nature."

In a statement, the Department of Justice says a bill is currently being drafted which would abolish the poor box system.

It would be replaced with a statutory 'reparation fund' which would provide a "fair, equitable and transparent system of reparation that will apply only to minor offences dealt with by the District Court".

The department adds that the bill is taking 'some time to draft' due to significant changes needed for the new community sanctions bill.

Main image: File photo of Central Criminal Court in Dublin. Picture by: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

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