Mr Justice Seamus Noonan reserved judgement on Tuesday the 15th of March, 2016 after a day of legal submissions .
Maurice Collins, senior counsel, argued “that this was not simply an argument about convenience, but about the provision of a system of courts as required by the constitution. The case involves fundamental aspects of the constitutional justice system providing not just a system of courts, but also local to the people they serve, local to the users of the courts.”
He challenged the statutory powers of the Court Service to close functioning courthouses. Not just the West Cork Bar Association had spoken against the closure of Skibbereen courthouse, similar submissions had been made by district and circuit court judges and solicitors..
Mark Sanfey, SC for the Court Service, said the Court Service was subject to government policy and budgetary constraints and that this underpinned their actions. That there were ongoing reviews of the viability and efficiency of court venues and it was only courthouses which scored poorly across a range of criteria that were considered for closure. He said that the Court Service had to have regard for the court system of the whole country and not just for West Cork.
In a reserved judgement, it is anticipated that it is likely to be delivered in Dublin at the end of July.
Association President, Diarmuid O’Shea, recently received a letter from the Courts Service stating that it has embarked on ‘a detailed evaluation’ of the court venues of Skibbereen, Clonakilty and Kinsale.
Voicing dismay and opposition, Diarmuid queried if the evaluation was also on the future existence of the district court lists for the three areas, since sittings of Kinsale Court for example, have been held in Bandon courthouse for over one year, despite major efforts to find a suitable venue for its return to the harbour town.
In the letter dated September 3rd, regional manager Eamonn Kiely pointed out in common with other public sector bodies, the Courts Service was continually reviewing all aspects of its organisation against the background of ‘a very difficult challenging economic environment’ and the moratorium on recruitment. Read More →