There are 63 District Court judges working across 24 areas around Ireland. Last year each judge dealt with an average of almost 5,000 criminal offences.

To get a picture of how the system operates we visited all 24 court districts observing the cases of 6,500 defendants at 100 court sittings.

On three of those days over 150 defendants were due to appear in court at a single sitting.


Charges Struck Out

Perhaps the most controversial sentencing option is judges’ use of the court poor box, which is most commonly used for public order and minor drugs possession cases. Once payment is made the judge usually strikes out all charges against the defendant which means that no criminal conviction is recorded.

More than one quarter of the €1.5m paid to charities from Irish courts in 2016 came from the pockets of defendants in Kerry courts. At the other end of the spectrum are court districts such as Mayo, Cavan/Monaghan and Roscommon where the poor box is used infrequently.

The figures in this graphic don’t capture all court-ordered donations to charity because the Courts Service only counts money that it processes via its offices. If a defendant pays the charity directly and brings a receipt to court it isn’t counted in the figures, according to the Courts Service.


Total Poor Box Payments by District Court

District Court OfficeAmount

ATHLONE 37,000.00
BALLINA 1,245.00
BALLINASLOE 6,320.00
BLANCHARDSTOWN DMD 19,604.28
BRAY 47,350.00
CARLOW 3,200.00
CARRICK ON SHANNON 2,564.22
CASTLEBAR 8,685.00
CAVAN 450.00
CHILDRENS COURT DMD 250.00
CIVIL OFFICE DUBLIN 11,650.00
CLONAKILTY 22,500.00
CLONMEL 71,500.00
CLOVERHILL 100.00
CORK 106,815.00
CRIMINAL COURTS OF JUSTICE 165,982.87
DONEGAL 11,043.92
DUN LAOGHAIRE 32,590.00
DUNDALK 13,770.00
ENNIS 58,577.17
GALWAY 27,100.00
KILKENNY 25,050.00
LETTERKENNY 550.00
LIMERICK 60,104.92
LONGFORD 43,550.00
MALLOW 11,650.00
MONAGHAN 3,071.69
MULLINGAR 60,470.00
NAAS 11,950.00
NENAGH & THURLES 3,140.00
PORTLAOISE 45,415.00
ROSCOMMON 200.00
SLIGO 5,395.46
SUMMONS OFFICE DMD 93,875.00
SWORDS 36,655.00
TALLAGHT DMD 38,135.00
TRALEE 394,080.00
TRIM 2,400.00
TULLAMORE 7,840.00
WATERFORD 29,380.00
WEXFORD 2,900.00
YOUGHAL 9,900.00
GRAND TOTAL 1,534,009.53