A judge has hit out at the “noise and filth” of Tralee courthouse on district court days and said he finds it the most awkward court in Kerry and Cork.
The 19th-century structure on Ashe St in the heart of Tralee has an imposing facade, but it is one of the few courthouses in the country not to have had an internal overhaul in the past decade.
There is no wheelchair access, and office staff have had to move to rented offices because of health and safety and other issues.
The poor state of the courthouse, built in 1835, has been the subject of council motions as well as a Dáil question in recent years.
Now, district court Judge James O’Connor told the first sitting of 2016 in Tralee that he would no longer tolerate the filthy and noisy conditions which the district court room is subjected to from the large atrium on Wednesday sittings, with people hanging around “smoking and yapping” at full belt all day and disrupting the court.
The circuit court rooms, with their own internal hall, were screened from what the district room had to put up with, Judge O’Connor said. Noise from the large hall was “disrupting” the district court all last year.
“The Tralee Court is the most awkward court I go to,” said Judge O’Connor, who presides over District 17, which includes the seven Kerry courthouses. He also regularly sits in special sittings in Cork.
“Something will have to be done to police the hall. The place is filthy… fag butts and coffee cups everywhere.”
“Gardaí must co-operate,” the judge warned, adding there was no need for extra gardaí but that gardaí waiting in court to prosecute summonses could go out and keep order.
Judge O’Connor said he wanted the steps of the court house cleared also.
People were hanging around for whole days as the Tralee court with its “huge lists” often sat until 7pm.
There was “yapping and talking all morning at full belt”, the judge said.
“Get them off the steps and out of the precincts of the court completely,” the judge told gardaí, in what he said were announcem-ents he wished to make for 2016.
The judge also elaborated on his reasons outlined in Killarney on Tuesday for a ban on cash payments to the court poor box during court sessions.
He said counting out cash in court “looks bad”, and there were security issues surrounding courts staff who have to haul court poor box cash, often to their own homes, because it is after office time.
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