Court operations curtailed amid staff shortages

“Due to the good work of the Courts Service in Cork, gardaí, prison officers, and others, there is no backlog at all in Cork.”
Court operations curtailed amid staff shortages

Judge Olann Kelleher told practitioners that due to staff absences it was decided that the business of courts would be curtailed in the next fortnight.

Details of the pared-down operations of courts in Ireland for the next fortnight were outlined by the senior judge of Cork District Court.

Judge Olann Kelleher told practitioners that due to staff absences nationally, the presidents of the District, Circuit, and High courts held a meeting at which it was decided that the business of courts would be curtailed in the next fortnight.

“As a result of the meeting, for the next two weeks, to January 21, the district courts will continue to deal with bail applications, custody, and all recent matters,” Judge Kelleher said. “The advice is to reduce the numbers immediately. No pleas will be dealt with in the next two weeks.”

So if a defendant’s solicitor indicates that their client is prepared to plead guilty to the charges against them, then the sentencing will be adjourned until Monday, January 24, at the earliest, and possibly to a later date. Judge Kelleher said that he was not commenting on staffing levels in the Cork area, but that on a national level, staffing levels were down by a high percentage.

“In relation to gardaí, the numbers [absent from work] are very high as well,” he said.

“The advice is that everything should be viewed on the advice that things might have changed in the next three weeks.

“Due to the good work of the Courts Service in Cork, gardaí, prison officers, and others, there is no backlog at all in Cork.”

The judge turned to court registrar, Peter Devine, and expressed compliments to him and his colleagues in that regard.

Family law to continue

Family law cases are to be dealt with in the normal way, despite the curtailment of services otherwise.

In respect of criminal cases, the judge added: “There are bound to be exceptions. 

"I will be here every day. I have no problem with solicitors appearing through colleagues.”

Most people remanded in custody to dates in the next fortnight would ordinarily appear by video link from prisons in any event.

“Regarding the attendance of defendants [who are on bail], they are not to be here,” he said.

“Solicitors have a duty to tell them not to attend. There is no reward for them turning up.”

It is anticipated that cases listed for the coming two weeks will be further adjourned in the absence of the defendants, and it will be a matter for solicitors to inform their clients of the adjournment dates.

Similar arrangements for court proceedings pertained for a period from March 2020, but that was associated with the lockdown rather than staff absences.

More in this section

Sponsored Content

Add Echolive.ie to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more