Peace commissioners are appointed by the Minister for Justice and Equality under Section 88 of the Courts of Justice Act 1924. It is an honorary position and a peace commissioner receives no remuneration or compensation from public funds. Peace commissioners are not entitled to charge or receive for their own benefit any fee or compensation from members of the public.
At present, the powers and duties of a peace commissioner are mainly:
- the taking of statutory declarations
- witnessing signatures on documents if that is required by various authorities
- signing certificates and orders under various Acts
There is no special application form. An application for appointment may be made by a person on their own behalf or a nomination for appointment may be made by a third party in respect of a person considered suitable for appointment. Nominations are generally received from public representatives, and a Garda superintendent may sometimes request an appointment in his or her district as the need arises in the public interest.
There is no qualifying examination, but appointees are required to be of good character and they are usually well established in the local community. People convicted of serious offences are considered unsuitable. Civil servants are usually only appointed where the performance of their official duties requires an appointment (i.e. ex-officio). Solicitors, people employed in legal offices, and members of the clergy are, as a matter of practice, not appointed because of their occupation. The fact that an applicant or nominee may be suitable for appointment does not, in itself, provide any entitlement to appointment as a peace commissioner because other factors, such as the need for appointments in particular areas, are taken into account.
Applications and nominations for appointment as a peace commissioner should be addressed to the Minister for Justice and Equality, 94 St. Stephen's Green, Dublin 2 and should, ideally, set out the reason for the application or nomination and provide some background information about the person proposed for appointment.
Contacting a Peace Commissioner
The Roll of Peace Commissioners maintained by The Department of Justice and Equality is appointment based, and it is not automatically updated to take account of changes of address, incapacity, retirement or death which occur subsequent to appointment. In the circumstances, the Roll does not always reflect the actual position on the ground. For that reason, if you need the services of a peace commissioner, you should contact your local Garda station. The Gardaí use the services of peace commissioners in the course of their duties and should be in a position to supply the name and address of one who is both resident and active in the your locality. However, the Department will usually provide the name and address of peace commissioners to members of the public, on request.