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Looking like mugs Councillor says defendants who refuse to pay fines are 'sticking two fingers up to courts'

'Whatever source of income it is.. if you do the crime, you pay the fine'

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Defendants who refuse to pay court imposed fines are “sticking two fingers up to the courts”, a local Longford councillor has said. 

Cllr Gerry Warnock said “we are being made to look like mugs”, as he called for tougher laws to be brought in.

Cllr Warnock made his comments as it was revealed how two thirds of people convicted at Longford courts are opting against paying fines.

He has said that court fines should be taken directly from people’s dole money or wages.

“Whatever source of income it is, if it's employment based or social welfare it doesn't matter. if you do the crime, you pay the fine,” he said.

Irish Courts Service figures released to the Longford Leader newspaper under the Freedom of Information Act show that just €176,000 out of an anticipated €537,000 has been recouped between October 2018 and October 2020.

Cllr Warnock, a former chairperson of Longford's Joint Policing Committee (JPC), said local elected representatives who are calling for tougher penalties to be handed down for litter enforcement are being made to “look like mugs.

“Here we are looking for stiffer penalties on public order and illegal dumping and then you see the likes of this going on?

“We are only mugs if we don't sit up and take notice of this, it's crazy.

“What's going on is just not good enough.

“There are people who are taking advantage of this and sticking two fingers up to the courts.”

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Fellow Longford County Councillor Seamus Butler, chairperson of Longford's Joint Policing Committee (JPC), said it was indicative of a system which was in need of urgent review.

The local businessman reiterated the claims of his independent counterpart for government bosses to enact more draconian legislation to ensure fines are paid without delay.

“There is only one way and one solution to this and that's by bringing in orders on income,” he said.

“If this is done then it might finally stop this charade of where certain people are brought down to Castlerea (Prison) for an hour or two because what is going on at the minute is a ludicrous situation.”

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