Charities share cash from court poor box
A total of 16 Wexford charities shared a total of €8,300 from the court poor box fund during 2015.
Ozanam House hostel for homeless men received the largest amount, €1,850 with Wexford Women's Refuge, the Cornmarket Project and Gorey Heartsafe receiving €1,000 each while Talk to Tom was given €1,140.
Eleven other local charities received smaller sums from donations made by defendants at the direction of judges in court cases at district courts. These include the Benevolent Society of St. Patrick, Damien Doran, Garda Benevolent Fund, Heart to Hand, Hope Cancer Support Centre, ISPCC, Michelle Casey, New Ross River Rescue, St. Aidan's Day Care Centre, St. Vincent de Paul Society and and Tusla.
The amount of money paid into the court poor box nationally dropped significantly between 2014 and 2015. In 2014, a total of €2.18 million was collected compared with €1.3 million in 2015, although further sums were ordered to be paid by defendants directly to charities.
The option of a poor box donation is at the discretion of the presiding judge and it is mainly used for minor and first-time offences.
There have been a number of attempts to end the practice with the Law Reform Commission recommending changes in 2005 and the former Minister for Justice Alan Shatter proposing in 2014 to replace it with a reparation fund for the victims of crime.
In 2014, the High Court ruled it should not be used as an option to avoid conviction in motoring offences involving penalty points.