THE seating arrangements at Limerick District Court are to be reviewed after a woman was injured when she fell over a broken chair in the body of the courtroom.
Following the incident, which happened during the monthly “parking court”, Judge Eugene O’Kelly struck out almost two dozen parking summonses commenting that the courtroom was not fit for purpose.
According to witnesses, the woman banged her head off the ground when she fell over the chair, which was damaged a number of weeks ago. The metal chair, which did not have a padded seat, has since been removed.
It has also emerged this week that two legal actions were initiated against the Courts Service over the past three years relating to “similar issues”.
After initially rising to allow the woman receive assistance, Judge O’Kelly then criticised the condition of the courtroom claiming it was not fit for purpose and was dangerous in parts.
A total of 426 Limerick City Council prosecutions were listed before the court on the day and following the incident Judge O’Kelly said he was striking out the cases of those who were present in the court.
A spokesperson for the local authority confirmed that a total of 19 cases were struck on on the day.
A spokesperson for Courts Service said that it has been made aware of the incident and that an investigation is underway.
“The Courts Service has been made aware of a member of the public having an accident in the courtroom of the District Court in Limerick last week, and have asked for details of same to be furnished,” said the spokesman.
Last week’s comments by Judge O’Kelly were not the first he has made in relation to the courtroom, which is one of the busiest in the country.
In recent months, he has raised concerns about overcrowding the custody area and the placement of minors in the same cell as adult prisoners.
He has also criticised recent ongoing problems surrounding the video link between the courtroom and prisons around the country.
In a statement, the Court Service conceded there are issues with the current courtroom.
“Whilst the current courtroom is far from ideal, we do not have any reports or understanding that it is hazardous,” said a spokesperson who added that plans to build a new courthouse at Mulgrave Street are being progressed.
“The Courts Service is working to progress the new Criminal Courts building for Limerick as part of a group of PPP projects which are in the advanced stages of planning currently”.
Following last week’s incident, the Office of Public Works has been asked to review the seating arrangements at the courtroom.
“The Courts Service has asked OPW to examine the courtroom and identify and address any issues relating to the seating in the courtroom,” said the spokesperson.