The Government has allocated an extra €145 million to the justice sector next year – a 5.3% increase on the 2021 figure.
This brings the department’s total budget to just over €3.1 billion. Current spending goes up by 5.4%, while capital spending will increase by 4.7% to €270 million.
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath said that he would make provision for the recruitment of 800 gardaí and 400 garda civilian staff in 2022, which will be the force’s centenary year.
The capital budget also includes €39 million to complete a replacement office for the force’s Harcourt Square premises – at Military Road in Dublin 8. There will also be continued investment in garda buildings, and the garda transport fleet.
More staff to support judges
The Courts Service will receive a total of €164 million – including an extra €1 million to continue its modernisation programme. There is also provision for administrative staff to support additional judges, as well as the recruitment of specialist staff to improve the service’s technology capacity.
Capital spending will also enable work on refurbishing courthouses throughout the country to continue.
“The courts have implemented many changes – such as increased use of video hearings – and this budget funding will support the Courts Service as it makes many of these changes permanent, as well as supporting significant reforms in relation to family courts, and the important work to streamline the administration of civil law,” said Minister for Justice Heather Humphreys.
As part of the Budget 2022 package, there will be €6.7 million for the Youth Justice Strategy, which will seek to develop and deliver programmes and early interventions for children and young people.
There will also be additional funding for improvements within the Irish Prison Service – including the completion of the redevelopment of Limerick Prison.
Extra funding for Legal Aid Board
The Department of Justice’s budget includes money to allow the implementation of Supporting A Victim’s Journey: A Plan to Help Victims and Vulnerable Witnesses in Sexual Violence Cases – a plan to reform the system of investigating and prosecuting sexual crimes to create a ‘victim-centred approach’.
The allocation will also enable the establishment of a new Community Safety Innovation Fund, which will use the proceeds of crime seized by the Criminal Assets Bureau to fund local projects.
There will also be an extra €3.3 million to support the work of the Legal Aid Board – including the provision of legal advice and legal-aid services to victims of sexual offences.
A total of €1.2 million will go towards additional staff for the International Protection Office (IPO) – to achieve faster processing times for applicants – and more resources in the International Protection Appeals Tribunal.
More staff for data watchdog
A capital allocation of €25 million will enable the new Forensic Science Ireland laboratory in Backweston, Co Kildare, to be completed next year.
Other areas receiving increased funds are:
- Criminal Assets Bureau (an extra €900,000),
- Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (€2.1 million),
- Inspector of Prisons (€400,000),
- Parole Board (€400,000).
The Data Protection Commission (DPC) is allocated an additional €3.9 million, mainly for increased staffing levels, bringing its total to €23.2 million.
Minister Humphreys said the increase would help address the increasing caseload – as well as the increasing complexity of cases – faced by the commission.