Bid to have more poor box funds given to local charities

Efforts are being made by Kerry County Council to persuade a District Court Judge to allocate more money to local communities and charities from the court poor box.

Judge James O'Connor: Bulk of €400k collected was distributed overseas. Picture: Domnick Walsh

Judge James O’Connor is being asked to meet the chairman of Kerry County Council and the council’s chief executive to discuss the matter.

The courts in Kerry consistently account for the highest contributions in the State to the poor box.

Figures for 2016 released by the Courts Service in August showed that almost one-third of the €1.53m total collected and distributed came from the court office in Tralee.

The vast majority of the almost €400,000 collected in Kerry was distributed among large overseas charities by Judge O’Connor.

The move by the county council is on foot of a motion by the mayor of Killarney Fianna Fáil councillor Niall Kelleher, which was passed at the September monthly meeting.

Cllr Kelleher called on the council to approach the courts service so that the poor box monies be allocated locally to community organisations across the county of Kerry and to charities based in Kerry.

Cllr Kelleher said the court poor box gave people a chance in lieu of conviction.

However, “90% goes to third-world charities overseas,” he said.

“We in Kerry have a fantastic fund in the community support fund,” Cllr Kelleher said, adding he would like to see that fund get more from the court poor box.

As well as that, it would be nice to see Kerry-based charities getting the bulk of Kerry poor box monies, getting a greater share, he felt.

Cllr Michael Cahill, Fianna Fáil, seconded the proposal and said it was “a very good motion”.

Cllr Cahill, who is from Glenbeigh and represents South and West Kerry, suggested that the chairman of Kerry County Council, John Sheahan, Fine Gael, and its chief executive Moira Murrell meet with Judge O’Connor, whom he described as “a very solid man”.

“It would be great if we could get a bit more,” Mr Cahill said.

A council spokesman confirmed the meeting between the council officials and the judge is being sought.

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