Ignoring TV fines results in prison

by Gazette Reporter
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INDIVIDUALS from the Dublin South-west area who have not paid their TV licence fines are being asked to present themselves at Tallaght Garda Station, where they are then transported to Mountjoy Prison.
It has been revealed that people who receive a warrant for the non-payment of TV licence fines are instructed by gardai to appear at Tallaght Garda Station at a particular time and day.
Individuals are given one final opportunity to pay the fine at that point. If they do not do so those who are summoned are loaded into a Garda bus and sent to Mountjoy to serve a sentence from a couple of hours to a number of days in jail.
Tom Gallagher, a local man whose wife and daughter were both asked to present themselves at Tallaght Garda Station, was told by a Garda official that seven people were expected to appear at the station last Tuesday and 12 more people the following week.
“Last Saturday, the gardai showed up at my daughter’s door, and informed her that if she didn’t pay her TV licence fine that she would need to present herself at Tallaght Garda Station the following Tuesday,” he said.
“They then said she would be taken from the station in a Garda bus down to Mountjoy where she would spend about four hours in jail.”
A Garda source said the gardai have a duty to execute the warrants for unpaid TV licence fines, and tend to ask individuals to present themselves at the station to avoid arresting them at their place of residence.
“When the gardai receive a warrant for the non-payment of TV licence fines they will contact the individual, giving them the choice to pay their fine,” he said.
“If they choose to ignore it, the gardai will inform the person once again of their outstanding fine. However, if they still refuse to pay, the gardai have no choice but to execute the warrant against them.
“We try to avoid causing distress to individuals by giving them the option to appear at Tallaght Garda Station, instead of forcefully taking them out of their homes throughout the day.
“If they show up at the station and we execute the warrant, we will then put them into a van, transport them to Mountjoy Prison and hand them over to the prison service.”
Courts Service spokesman Gerry Curran confirmed that people who don’t pay their TV licence are given multiple warnings to do so before being prosecuted.
“You will get a notice that you are fined, a reminder if you haven’t paid and in some cases a final reminder. If the fine is still not paid, a warrant is sent to the Garda to recover the fine, and if you still refuse to pay you will be then sentenced,” said Curran.
Sinn Fein TD Sean Crowe believes the number of people jailed for TV licence fines is “extremely worrying”.
“I personally don’t believe that sending someone to prison for a victimless crime like the non-payment of a licence does anything to enhance or protect our justice system.”

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