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Question

468. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Justice if her attention has been drawn to the fact that members of the public who travelled abroad during lockdown for essential medical treatment are now being issued with fines by An Garda Síochána for non-essential travel (details supplied); if there is an appeals process available to these persons; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [57140/21]

Answer

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): As the Deputy will appreciate, the Garda Commissioner is responsible under section 26 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 (as amended) for the general management and administration of Garda business. This includes the enforcement of all applicable legislation and the management of the Fixed Charge Notice system.
The enforcement of public health legislation by members of An Garda Síochána is an operational matter for the Garda Commissioner and the issuance of any individual Fixed Charge Penalty Notice (FCPN) is not within my remit as Minister, nor is any operational policing decision related to the enforcement of any applicable legislation.
I am informed that an initial period of 28 days from the date of the Fixed Charge Notice allows for payment at the fixed charge amount. A further period of 28 days is permitted to accept payment at the fixed charge amount plus 50%.
A third payment option was introduced on 1 June 2017, with the commencement of Section 44 of the Road Traffic Act 2010, as amended, by the Department of Transport. Section 44 provides that a person who is served with a summons in respect of a fixed charge offence may pay a fixed charge of an amount 100% greater than the original fixed charge, not later than 7 days before the date of the court on which the charge is to be heard, and a second Fixed Charge Notice is issued to this effect. If a person takes up the third payment option, proceedings in respect of the alleged offence are discontinued, the case does not come before a Judge, and the person need not attend court.
If an individual does not pay a fixed charge amount on receipt of a Fixed Charge Notice at any of the three payment points outlined above, he or she will be summonsed to appear in court and, if convicted of a fixed charge offence, the ensuing fine is paid to the Courts Service, not the Fixed Charge Processing Office.
Anyone receiving a Fixed Payment Notice (FPN) from An Garda Síochána can apply to have it cancelled. The grounds on which such an application can be made and how to make the application are available on the Garda website. Normally, a person who fails to pay a FPN will be prosecuted. However, following a review the FPN may be cancelled and no prosecution will then take place.
FPNs can be cancelled by An Garda Síochána when the evidence would not sustain a prosecution and / or due to exceptional circumstances a prosecution would not be appropriate, fair or proportionate.
Decisions on cancellations are governed by Garda policy and procedures and I, as Minister, have no role in this process.
It remains an option for a person to not pay a FCPN and to proceed to Court, where they can offer a defence for the initial offence to a Judge who will decide on their case. As the Deputy can appreciate I am unable to comment on individual cases that are, or may be, before the Courts.
I am advised that any individual person who has any queries relating to a FCPN may contact the Garda Fixed Charge Processing Office at the following contact details:
Fixed Charge Processing OfficeParnell StreetThurlesCounty Tipperary
Tel: +353 504 59800
Freephone: 1890 30 40 60
Fax: +353 504 59844
E-mail:npo@garda.ie.