Garda resource issues cannot become a problem for Courts Service - judge

Garda resource issues cannot become a problem for Courts Service - judge

A judge has said any Garda resource issues cannot become a problem for the Courts Service after An Garda Siochana requested that three cases listed for trial be removed from a future list because no Garda prosecutors were available.

Sgt Paul Kelly made the application at Bandon District Court in relation to three cases listed for hearing on March 14 next in Bantry.

Judge James McNulty read out the note from An Garda Siochana to accompany the application, specifically the reference to no prosecutor being available.

Contested matters can only be prosecuted by senior Gardai and the Judge declined the application, saying any such delays, at a time when judges are under increasing pressure, could result in “justice delayed”.

“That is unfortunate,” he said, referring to the Garda note, “but it sounds like a resource problem for management in An Garda Siochana. I can’t allow your problem to become my problem.

“When you reflect on it this means that a resource problem in An Garda Siochana impacts the Courts Service and the courts, so on principle, while it is only a small matter, I can’t agree to this.”

Judge McNulty and another judge who has heard cases in West Cork over the past year, Judge Mary Dorgan, both recently referenced a shortage of judges at district court level.

He referred to a previous case heard by Mr Justice Michael Peart in which the latter said “judicial time is not an infinite resource”, again referring to the shortage of judges. “It is becoming more serious,” he said.

Judge McNulty referenced the “pressure on the judiciary” and referred to how “justice delayed is justice denied”, adding “our time must be well used".

Most judges work long hours. Why do we do that? To serve. We are here to serve the citizens, not An Garda Siochana. So for those reasons I do not think I could have been curt or abrupt and say no.

He said the Garda correspondence asking that the cases be taken out of the list was “bald and terse” and said the request was “politely but firmly declined”.

There are currently three vacancies at district court level and the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board met today to suggest names of possible appointees.

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