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Question

903. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Justice if the relocation of the Legal Aid Board office in County Waterford has been brought to her attention; if discussions have taken place with staff of that office concerning the move; if she has given formal consent under section 3(2) of the Civil Legal Aid Act 1995 for this new premises; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42170/21]

Answer

Minister of State at the Department of Justice (Deputy Hildegarde Naughton): As the Deputy will be aware, the Legal Aid Board provides legal advice and aid under the relevant terms of the Civil Legal Aid Act 1995 and the Civil Legal Aid Regulations 1996-2017. Section 3(3) of the Act provides that the Board shall, subject to the provisions of the Act, be independent in the exercise of its functions.
The location of offices of the Legal Aid Board is also subject to the Civil Legal Aid Regulations 1996 (S.I no. 273 of 1996), which give effect to the relevant provisions of Section 37 of the 1995 Act.  Regulation no. 22 (1) states that,
“In deciding on the location of law centres, the Board shall have regard to –
(a) the need to provide reasonable access to their services on a nationwide basis,
(b) the desirability of providing, so far as possible, ready access to their services in the areas where the need for those services is greatest, and
(c) the need to use available resources in a way likely to result in maximum benefit for persons in need of legal aid or advice 
and in considering these matters the Board shall take account of any views expressed by local and other interests but the decision finally in each case shall be a matter entirely for the Board”.
In relation to the issue of consent under section 3(2) of the Civil Legal Aid Act 1995, I can confirm that this is a matter on which the Board is engaged with my Department.