Lack of video evidence facilities “appalling”

By Cormac O’Keeffe A JUDGE has described a lack of video evidence facilities as “appalling” and called on the Government to introduce them immediately.

Circuit Court Judge Kevin Haugh said the Government had approved the introduction of video link evidence ten years ago.

Judge Haugh made his remarks after an application at Wexford Circuit Court for the transfer of a case to Dublin Circuit Court.

The court was told a six-year-old would give evidence in a case but her mother would not allow this in open court, stipulating the use of a video link.

Judge Haugh said the lack of such facilities was “appalling” and added that the State was incurring costs by failing to provide equipment that could be brought from circuit to circuit.

There are two facilities in the State, both in Dublin.

Solicitors yesterday backed his call and said such facilities were a necessary part of a modern court service.

“The Law Society agrees completely with Judge Haugh, and we’d even go further,” society director-general Ken Murphy said.

“It should certainly be the case that State money be made available to provide this technology wherever it is required throughout the country, not just in Dublin,” Mr Murphy said.

He said that in Dublin it was used in few cases, typically involving children giving evidence in abuse cases.

A Courts Service spokesman said there were plans to establish a video link facility in Cork city, although no time scale had yet been set.

He added: “We are also actively examining the possibility of providing video link facilities in larger circuit courts such as Sligo, Waterford and Limerick.

“We’re aware of the inconvenience that having to travel to Dublin causes to witnesses and families of minors who need to give evidence via video link.”

But, he said, there was a small demand for such a facility.

“It wouldn’t be feasible to put it in every courthouse around the country. It involves a lot of communications equipment, providing a dedicated room that has to be very secure, away from courts to protect the witness, and it might be only used once a year.”

A Department of Justice spokesman said Minister McDowell was committed to expanding video-link facilities and that it was a commitment under the Charter for Victims of Crime.

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