Laws and Fines
According to the government legislation programme published on 25 September the government was to publish 17 bills during the autumn session. Just two of these bills have been published. It is now likely the government will publish in a flurry a number of bills and push them through the Oireachtas in the 11 remaining sitting days before the Christmas recess.
One piece of legislation that the government was due to publish during this session was the Fines Bill 2007. The legislation was to bring in alternative punishments for the non-payment of fines. At present prison sentences are often imposed for the non-payment of fines. Over the last four years an average of 1,800 people a year have been committed to prison for failing to pay fines and debts. This has added considerably to the overcrowding of the prison system.
The bill proposes that people could pay their fines in instalments or that payments will be deducted at source from social welfare payments or unemployment benefits. The Department of Equality, Justice and Law Reform said they are not in position to say when the bill will be published so it is unlikely to happen in this Dáil session. Meanwhile the jails will remain clogged up.