546. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which, if known, the legal aid system continues to be most beneficial to hardened criminals and members of criminal gangs; the extent to which statistics are available which might indicate specific trends in this area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20846/15]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Under the Criminal Justice (Legal Aid) Act 1962, the courts, through the judiciary, are responsible for the granting of legal aid. An applicant for legal aid must establish to the satisfaction of the court that their means are insufficient to enable them to pay for legal representation themselves. The court must also be satisfied that by reason of the "gravity of the charge" or "exceptional circumstances", it is essential in the interests of justice that the applicant should have legal aid. I have no function in these matters which are determined by the judiciary. Statistics of the type sought by the Deputy are not compiled by the Court Service.