New statutory Parole Board has provided legal aid to 66 people
The Parole Board’s legal aid scheme provided legal representation to 38 applicants and 28 victims in the first year-and-a-half of its operation, new figures show.
The statutory Parole Board today published its first annual report, covering the period from 31 July 2021 — when the Parole Act 2019 commenced — to 31 December 2022.
Under the 2019 Act, both victims and parole applicants may have access to legal representation and the Parole Board is required to establish a legal aid scheme and a panel of suitably-qualified solicitors and barristers.
There were 66 legal aid assignments in 2022, with legal aid assigned to 28 victims. The annual report notes that the provision of statistics is “very limited as the Parole Board does not have a case management system”, which it is working with the Department of Justice to address “as a matter of priority”.
Welcoming the report, justice minister Helen McEntee said: “I am very pleased to see the publication of the Parole Board’s first annual report, two years since I established it as an independent, statutory body.
“This is an important milestone and I want to thank the Chief Executive, Ciairín de Buis, all the staff of Parole Board, the chairperson, Mr Justice Michael White and the members of the Board for their hard work and commitment.”
Ciairín de Buis, chief executive of the Parole Board, added: “I am pleased and privileged to present this annual report on the work of the Parole Board, the first since our statutory establishment, during 2021-2022.
“I would like to thank the chairperson of the Parole Board, Mr Justice Michael White, the members of the Board, and my colleagues for their hard work and commitment. They bring a remarkable commitment and compassion to work that they do which is difficult, complex and challenging.
“The process of parole has changed significantly with the introduction of the Parole Act 2019. I would like to thank the applicants and victims who have placed their trust in us — an independent parole board which protects the community, is fair to applicants and listens to victims.”