Courthouse move serves to confuse the accused

The Courts Service opted for a soft opening of their massive new courthouse complex in Cork yesterday — so soft that one man didn’t get to hear at all about the criminal courts’ move to Anglesea St.

One of solicitor Diarmuid Kelleher’s clients had the somewhat confusing experience of turning up at Washington St — where district court business has been carried out for the past three years while the new courthouse was being built at Anglesea St.

When the young man’s case was called, Mr Kelleher said the accused was on his way, adding: “He was in the wrong court. He telephoned me wondering where we all were.”

The answer to that was that they were all in courtroom 1 at Anglesea Street where the business of the court was conducted in the usual manner, with no hitches.

Registrar, Margaret O’Halloran, said: “All rise,” very shortly after 10.30am. Judge Olann Kelleher took his place on the bench and the first case was called. There were no speeches. There was no fanfare.

That will be a matter for next Monday when Justice Minister Charles Flanagan and many figures from the judiciary will be in attendance for the official opening.

In keeping with the spirit of the soft opening yesterday, one of the accused wandered into court drinking from a can of Coke. On the basis that soft drinks were not part of the soft opening, a guard quietly asked the man to take his can outside the court — which he did.

Cases were adjourned, some people who pleaded guilty were given jail sentences, and some who were hoping to get out of custody applied for bail. It was just another day in Cork District Court, albeit in a brand new facility.

However, solicitor, Joseph Cuddigan, seemed to miss the intimacy of Washington Street as he addressed Judge Kelleher from the floor of the court: “You are so far away, judge, the Courts Service will have to provide us with opera glasses.”

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