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Judge Patrick Durcan

Charity begins in court as poor box funds donated

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A TOTAL of 24 local charities are to benefit from the proceeds of the 2013 district court poor box, which added up to €31,450.
Twelve charities that did not benefit from the court poor box last year received donations this year.
Clare’s District Court Judge Patrick Durcan recently assigned the funds to the relevant charities and they receive their cheques in the coming days.
The charity to benefit most from this year’s poor box donations is Kilrush St Vincent De Paul, which has received €6,000, with St Vincent De Paul in Ennis benefiting receiving the second highest donation of €4,000.
Three charities benefited to the tune of €2,000 each; East Clare Outreach Programme, Clare Youth Service and Cahercalla Hospice.
Donations of €1,000 were made to Ciúnas Centre, Feakle; District Day Care Centre, Clarecastle; Enable Ireland, Ennis; Accord, Ennis; Tuamgraney Handball Club; Clare Crusaders; Poor Clares, Ennis; The Samaritans, Ennis; ClareCare; Clare Haven Refuge; Pieta House; Shannon Flyers (Special Olympics Club); and Tipperary Limerick Clare for Cystic Fibrosis (TLC4CF).
Seeking Vision received €450, and the following charities each received a donation of €400: Clare Intercultural Network; Doolin Search and Rescue; Kilkee Marine Rescue; Killaloe/Ballina Search and Rescue; and St Caimin’s Search and Rescue, Mountshannon.
Last year Clare’s court poor box yielded €30,500, which represented a dramatic increase on the €14,400 collected in 2011, and the €10,000 raised in 2010.
In 2012, a total of 27 charities benefited from the court poor box in County Clare.
The practice of courts directing that money be paid into a court poor box in lieu of or in conjunction with another penalty is a practice, which predates the foundation of the State, according to a Courts Service spokesperson.
It is predominantly used by the District Courts who deal with criminal offences of a less serious nature than other jurisdictions. The individual amounts can vary substantially depending on ability to pay, other penalties imposed and the nature of the offences.
The option of paying into the court poor box arises usually where the offence is minor in nature and would not attract a custodial sentence. Public order offences are the most common offences for which the poor box option is given to defendants. It is sometimes used for road traffic offences, first time, minor drug offences and offences against property or animals.
In late 2005 the Law Reform Commission recommended that the operation of the Poor Box be put on a statutory footing and be updated in the context of a reformed Probation Act.


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