Standing orders were suspended at a meeting in Cork County Hall yesterday to discuss the announcement by the Courts Service that it is to close Kinsale District Court at the end of the year and transfer the sittings to Bandon, about 18km away, for cost-saving reasons.
The proposed closure has prompted the West Cork Bar Association — which represents more that 150 solicitors in the region — to consider taking legal action.
A decision was also to be made on the future of Skibbereen District Court but that was deferred until the year end. In the event of a closure there, sittings would be transferred to Clonakilty.
Yesterday, Cllr Kevin Murphy (FG) said he could not understand the rationale behind the Kinsale closure.
He said while the current court was temporarily sitting in Temperance Hall, the council had written to the Courts Service saying it owned a suitable facility, the James O’Neill Memorial Building, which could be refurbished with a West Cork Development grant.
He said: “Closing the court is inadvisable. There is a significant throughput [of cases] to justify it being open. We need a court sitting in Kinsale at least once a month.”
Cllr Veronica Neville (FG), who is a solicitor, said: “Kinsale is a very vibrant and busy tourist town and with that comes another element. It’s important for the young people to see there are repercussions for antisocial behaviour. This will have a massive impact.
“The gardaí will now be out of the town longer [travelling to Bandon].”
Cllr Alan Coleman (FF), said he could not understand why the Courts Service would close Kinsale in the face of a sustained campaign by solicitors and Judge James McNulty.
The council is to write to the Courts Service and Alan Shatter, the justice minister, asking for a reversal of the decision.