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Question

397. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of applications in each of the past five years for wards of courts; the number approved by the courts; the number of these cases contested by persons opposing the wardship; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54095/18]

Answer

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): As the Deputy is aware, the High Court has jurisdiction in wards of court matters and management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service, which is independent in exercising its functions under the Courts Service Act 1998.
However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the Courts Service has provided the following figures for wardship applications and declarations for persons over the age of 18 in the last 5 years:
Adult Wardship Applications and Declarations

- 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Applications for Wardship * 367 369 344 294 409
Wardship Declarations 309 219 289 325 321
Note: * Application is a case where a petition or other application for wardship has been submitted and President of the High Court has signed an inquiry order directing that an inquiry be made into the capacity of the respondent.
The Courts Service has advised that there is a difference between the number of applications initiated and the number of declarations over the period. The most common reason for this is that many respondents in wardship applications are persons over 70 years of age. An application can take some months to complete and it often happens that the respondent passes away between the date of the application but prior to a declaration order being made. The Courts Service has informed me that objections to applications for wardship are not common and have only arisen in adult wardship cases. However, the Courts Service does not maintain statistics on the number of objections lodged, although it is estimated that approximately 10 such objections were lodged in 2018. The Courts Service has further advised that any such objections must be grounded on medical evidence.
In terms of persons under the age of 18, the Courts Service has informed me that it does not maintain statistics on the number of minor wardship applications but has confirmed that all such applications are dealt with promptly and without delay. The Courts Service has provided the following figures for minor wardship declarations in the last 5 years:
Minor Wardship Declarations
- 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Wardship Declarations 12 19 21 26 23