Judge highlights need for extra resources

Donal O’Regan


Donal O’Regan

Judge Eugene O’Kelly said the number of cases on Monday’s Limerick district court list - over 400 - was ‘completely non-sensical’.

Judge Eugene O’Kelly said the number of cases on Monday’s Limerick district court list - over 400 - was ‘completely non-sensical’.

The judge, appointed to Limerick in June, was speaking shortly before he broke for lunch at around 1.20pm on Monday’s sitting.

He told the packed court if they were on the morning list but hadn’t been called yet to come back in the afternoon.

“One hundred and thirty five cases have been heard in addition to custody and applications in camera before the court started.

“We are not even remotely through the morning list. It is completely non-sensical,” said Judge O’Kelly, who apologised to members of the public waiting.

“Myself, gardai, the clerk, members of the legal profession are here anyway but it is completely irresponsible listing so many in one day.

“Sorry to the people waiting all morning.

“Nothing can be done [about it] unless the state makes extra resources available,” said Judge O’Kelly.

He referenced a colleague who pointed this out last year.

Judges John O’Neill and Timothy Lucey have previously expressed concerns about the workload at the district court.When a Corkman’s case was called the judge noted there are four judges dealing with district court matters in Cork, “here there is one”.

On Monday morning many had to stand at the back of the court or outside as they waited for their cases to be called. Some travelled in from the county as the Limerick district court covers Cappamore, Murroe, Castleconnell, Doon, Pallasgreen and Castleconnell.

The area for gardai to wait was also overflowing.

In January 2010, a spokesman for the Courts Service said that additional resources will be made available in Limerick city.

“The Courts Service is working with the President of the district court and the local judge to finalise plans to improve district court facilities and to assign further judicial resources within the Limerick district.”

The spokesman could not confirm when the new judge would take up his or her duties but he said it was likely to happen in the coming months.

Over a year and a half later Fianna Fail spokesperson on Justice, Niall Collins said a second judge must be appointed to Limerick.

The deputy said if a judge is forced to speak from the bench it emphasises the seriousness of the situation.

“The Government is making a mockery of the entire justice system. On an almost daily basis there are reports from court sittings in Limerick and around the country that cases are being struck out because of the lack of resources for the court services and gardai.

“The cut in overtime to gardai means they are unable to attend court on certain days.

“Cases are being thrown out. This is particularly worrying for victims of crime who want the perpetrators of the attacks on them brought to justice.

“Then they are finding that their cases have been dismissed. The gardai are doing great work on the ground but they aren’t getting the support of the Minister of Justice,” said Mr Collins.