Two judges in the same court in the same week have referred to the lack of district court judges, with one stating the situation was now “critical”.
Last Wednesday Judge Mary Dorgan, who was hearing evidence in a long-running case at Bandon District Court, said there was “a paucity of district judges” and that more retirements were due this month.
She said the situation was “critical”, with that case requiring at least one more day, at a time when she said she had commitments in other courts in the coming weeks.
Yesterday, again at Bandon District Court, Judge James McNulty also made reference to the issue of a shortage of judges.
“There is a resource problem now,” he said, adding that the issue facing the President of the District Court, Judge Rosemary Horgan, is “she has really too many courts and not enough judges".
“It is as simple as that. She is waiting on fresh supplies.”
Expanding on the point he said there may be “an obstacle” or “a checkpoint that is preventing the Minister for Justice proceeding along the road he wants to go".
The issue arose in the course of a case in which the judge discharged himself from involvement because the defendant had previously carried out work for him.
“He drilled a well for me four years ago, it was all very satisfactory, I paid the man in full, it was all sorted,” the judge said.
He said the test of objectivity was not based on his own view but rather based on “someone outside looking in”, even though the defendant’s solicitor had stressed he had no issue with Judge McNulty hearing the matter.
It means a visiting judge will be required to hear the case, with the matter being put back for six weeks for mention so a solution can be found.
Referring to his earlier reference to “a checkpoint”, the Judge said: “Someone may have to contact the Minister for Transport to see if he can help us.”