Dáil Éireann - Volume 507 - 01 July, 1999

Written Answers. - Law Centres.

213. Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if, further to Parliamentary Question No. 99 of 24 June 1999, he will consider the proposal to establish a community law centre as distinct from a legal aid board centre that would be responsive to the special community law interests in the Ballymun rejuvenation area; if he will consider using the moneys currently held in the fund of suitors to this effect; [1002] and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17202/99]

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. O'Donoghue): The question of opening a new law centre would be a matter in the first instance for the Legal Aid Board. As Minister I do not propose to provide funding for law centres other than for those which are governed by the terms of the Civil Legal Aid Act, 1995.

As the Deputy is aware, section 3(3) of that Act provides that the Legal Aid Board shall, subject to the provisions of the Act, be independent in the exercise of its functions. Accordingly, as Minister, I may not direct the board in how it carries out its statutory functions. The board, however, has informed me that it has no plans at present to open additional law centres, but the matter will be kept under review. In the circumstances the use of moneys held in the funds of suitors for the purpose of opening additional law centres does not arise at this time.