763. Deputy Patrick Costello asked the Minister for Justice when the 2020 Annual Report of the Legal Aid Board will be published; and the actions that are being taken by her Department in relation to its contents. [53012/21]
Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): The Legal Aid Board is the statutory, independent body responsible for the provision of civil legal aid and advice to persons of modest means, in accordance with the provisions of the Civil Legal Aid Act 1995. They are also responsible for the delivery of the State funded Family Mediation Service, and provide services in respect of Abhaile, International Protection Services and Criminal Legal Aid.
The 2020 Annual Report of the Legal Aid Board is already laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas, as provided under the relevant terms of the Civil Legal Aid legislation.
My colleague, Minister Browne, launched the Report on 21 October 2021, and it is publicly available on my Department’s and on the Board's website.
My Department is grateful to the Board for its delivery of key supports to citizens as part of the Government’s response to COVID-19. The Board showed ongoing professionalism and commitment to ensuring access to justice for those of limited means throughout the pandemic, and took specific measures to assist those at increased risk of domestic violence. These included setting up a Legal and Mediation Information Helpline and the establishment of a duty solicitor service in Dublin to ensure that no domestic violence case eligible for legal aid was left without representation. During a difficult year they provided assistance to 17,000 clients.
As the Deputy may be aware, under the Justice Budget 2022, the Board has been allocated an additional €3.3m bringing its total allocation for 2022 to €47.9million. This additional funding will support its work, including the provision of legal advice and legal aid service to victims of sexual offences.