Garda cutbacks took a bizarre turn in Limerick yesterday when no member of the force could be found to dine at a top-class restaurant.
The situation arose at Limerick Circuit Court after a jury was sworn in to try a case.
When Judge Carroll Moran asked for the jury to be taken in charge by a garda, none could be found.
Trial procedures provide two gardaí are sworn in to ensure that persons not involved in the case do not talk with or approach the jury about the case when they are absent from the courthouse for meal breaks. Judge Moran asked the jury to meet at 12.45pm at the restaurant of the Hunt Museum.
Limerick jury members and their Garda escorts are given lunch at the award-winning restaurant at the expense of the justice minister.
However, when Judge Moran asked for a garda to be sworn in to take the jury in charge, none was present in court.
State solicitor Michael Murray said difficulties regarding court gardaí had arisen and he had been in contact with the superintendent in Henry St.
Mr Murray said he had made a complaint about the absence of designated gardaí in the circuit court, and the issue had not been addressed.
Judge Moran allowed the jury to leave the court and said gardaí would be sworn in in their absence to take them in charge and would meet them at the Hunt Museum restaurant at 12.45pm.
Two gardaí arrived at 12.10pm, having been taken off street duty, and were sworn in to take the jury in charge.
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