104. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the waiting times and numbers of persons on the waiting list at each of the free legal aid centres, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10758/18]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The provision of civil legal aid in the State is delivered by the Legal Aid Board pursuant to the Civil Legal Aid Act 1995 and the Civil Legal Aid Regulations 1996 to 2017.
I am conscious that there are significant demands on the Board and that this gives rise to waiting times for certain services at most of the Board’s law centres. However, waiting times have been markedly reduced over the past couple of years due to measures introduced by the Board and the Deputy will be glad to know that the Board’s budget was increased to €40.275m in 2018.
The Board is extremely conscious that delays in service can lead to difficulties not just for the client but also for children, the wider family and the community, as well as the courts system. In this regard, the Board provides a priority service in respect of a number of areas such as domestic violence, child abduction, child care, and asylum and related matters. All other applications are placed on the waiting list.
I would advise the Deputy that the details of waiting times in each law centre are published on a monthly basis on the Legal Aid Board website. However, to be of assistance, I have included these figures in my response.
Legal Aid Board waiting times – 31 December 2017
|Waiting for 1st Consultation||Waiting for 2nd Consultation|
|Law Centre||Max Waiting Time (wks)||Number||Max Waiting Time (wks)||Number|
|Cork Popes Quay||20||69||0||0|
|Cork South Mall||23||82||18||68|
|Galway Francis St||22||64||0||0|
|Galway Seville House||8||17||7||15|
I am informed that some law centres operate a ‘triage’ approach, which involves giving an applicant a short consultation (45 minutes) for legal advice. Those persons remain on the Board’s waiting list if they require further legal services and the wait time for this is indicated by the second column (waiting for 2nd consultation).