Despite calls for a court fine system called the ‘poor box’ to be ended last year more than €1.5 million was paid to charities through the scheme.
This figure represented an increase of €200,000 on the previous year, with almost one third of the total sum paid in the Tralee area of County Kerry, according figures revealed by the Irish Times.
In 2014 the Irish government said it would get rid of the poor box and replace it with a statutory reparations fund due to concerns about equal treatment of offenders of different economic backgrounds. No changes have happened since then and judges have continued with the practice.
Sums awarded in counties vary greatly, with nearly €400,000 being awarded in one district of Kerry against €400 in County Roscommon.
Christian Blind Mission received €53,000 from the poor box, Sightsavers International €53,000, Ethiopia Aid €37,500 and Action Aid Ireland €34,000. The charity which benefited most from the poor box nationally was the Capuchin Day Centre at €57,785, with €41,120 of this coming from the Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin.
The option of the poor box is used in lieu of, or in mitigation of, conviction, and is at the discretion of judge. The beneficiary is not specified at the time of the donation and it is usually the individual judge who decides at the end of each year where the money goes.
Photo: Poor box by stevendepolo on Fickr.com
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