DUP MLA Lord Morrow says it’s ‘staggering and totally unacceptable’ that over £1m in fines imposed at the Londonderry Magistrates’ Court between 2009 and 2013 remain unpaid.
He says the figure contributes to over £9m in unpaid fines at Magistrates’ Courts across Northern ireland.
Speaking during a debate on the Justice Bill at Stormont, Lord Morrow said: “Figures provided to me by the Minister show that just over £14 million remain unpaid in fines handed down across Northern Ireland from 2009 to 2013.
“That, by anyone’s standards, is staggering and totally unacceptable. A Bill that does not adequately address that issue has a hole in it.
“Over £9 million of that £14 million was attributed to 45,558 fines imposed in Magistrates’ Courts.
“The Belfast division accounts for in excess of £3 million, with Antrim, Londonderry and my constituency of Fermanagh and South Tyrone each accounting for well over £1 million.”
He went on to explain how over £5m of Crown Court fines also remain unpaid - equating to 394 cases.
“The vast majority of those cases were funded - this is the other insult - by legal aid.
“Not only have defendants had their fees covered, they have refused to pay court-ordered financial penalties.
“In fact, they have got off scot-free, not once but twice. Our justice system has to address that, and the Justice Bill has to make provision for it,” said Lord Morrow.