New twists in battle over courts transfer

New twists have developed in the battle to prevent sittings of three courts being transferred from West Cork to Cork city.

A district court judge has signalled he intends to recommence sittings in Kinsale from Jan 1 at a temporary location until a permanent home can be found there for the court.

Meanwhile, a senior garda has sent a submission to the Courts Service outlining the potential negative impact, on gardaí, of transferring the three courts in Skibbereen, Clonakilty and Kinsale.

Kinsale District Court was transferred temporarily to Bandon due to the fact the building it was previously in was deemed unsuitable.

However, at a sitting of the court last Thursday, Judge James McNulty said it had become clear that in co-operation with Cork County Council a permanent home for the court could be found in Kinsale within a reasonable time.

In the interim, he said, the town’s Temperance Hall would be made available for court sittings.

The judge has notified solicitors and gardaí he intends to move the sitting from Bandon back to Kinsale from Jan 1. The judge’s declaration has been welcomed by the 120-strong solicitors on the West Cork Bar Association who are opposed to proposals by the Courts Service to remove the three courts to the city in a move designed to save money.

But the solicitors say it will cost other state bodies and the public considerably more than the savings the Courts Service would make.

Chief Superintendent Tom Hayes, who is in charge of policing in the region, confirmed he had been given an opportunity by the Courts Service to comment on its proposals.

“I have availed of that opportunity. The Courts Service has been made aware of the potential negative impact on the Garda budget if all three courts are transferred to Cork City.

“The Courts Service has undertaken to consider my submission in relation to this,” he said.

Local politicians have expressed concern that gardaí attending courts could be delayed for hours in the city and this could leave their areas undermanned.

West Cork Bar Association president Diarmuid O’Shea said his organisation had sent a submission to all 17 members of the Courts Service pointing out its concerns.

“As far as I know there will be no meeting of the Courts Service until the second week in December, so there will be no decision until then, at least. We understand that when a decision is made we will be consulted again,” Mr O’Shea said.

The Kinsale-based solicitor said he was very happy with Judge McNulty’s decision to return court sittings to the harbour town.

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