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Question

367. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the options available to drivers who have had penalty points levied against them and who cannot afford to be legally represented when challenging them; if it is possible to set up a lay litigant system which persons could avail of; if it is possible to allow any consequential fines if they lose to be paid in instalments; and the position regarding the need to enhance the quality of the photographs taken by speed cameras to ensure the avoidance of doubt for prosecution of road traffic laws. [13226/15]

Answer

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): As the Deputy will be aware, it is not within my function as Minister for Justice and Equality to provide legal advice to persons charged with offences before the courts.
Under the Criminal Justice (Legal Aid) Act, 1962 free legal aid may be granted, in certain circumstances, for the defence of persons of insufficient means in criminal proceedings. The courts, through the judiciary, are responsible for the granting of legal aid and an applicant must establish to the satisfaction of the court that their means are insufficient to enable them to pay for legal aid themselves. The 1962 Act specifies that the court must also be satisfied that, by reason of the 'gravity of the charge' or 'exceptional circumstances', it is essential in the interest of justice that the applicant should have legal aid. Insofar as the question of paying fines imposed by the court is concerned, there is no provision at present for the payment of fines by instalment. However, the Deputy may be aware that work is ongoing in relation to the commencement of the Fines (Payments and Recovery) Act, 2014 which will provide the option to pay a fine that exceeds €100 by instalment.
In so far as the quality of photographs taken by safety cameras is concerned, the Deputy will appreciate that I have no direct role in the administration of the outsourced safety camera system which is operational matter for An Garda Síochána. I am informed that the safety camera system is designed to use certified, robust and proven technology and employ rigorous quality checks.