Wednesday, 20 May 2020
Department of Justice and Equality
Court Accommodation Provision
As the Deputy is aware, under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts, including the provision of accommodation for court sittings, is the responsibility of the Courts Service, which is independent in exercising its functions. The scheduling and hearing of court cases is a matter for the Presidents of the Courts and the presiding Judges. However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made with the Courts Service.
In response to the current public health emergency, a series of important measures were announced on Monday the 16th March and, most recently on Friday 8th May, by the Chief Justice and the President of the District Court. The measures are focused on ensuring essential access to the administration of justice in a manner fully respecting public safety and considering government public health advice.
It is in the context of these measures that Judge Brian O'Shea, the District Judge assigned to Wexford, has directed that all business be moved from Gorey to Wexford courthouse until the end of this term. I understand that the Courts Service has sent an email to the local court users to inform them of the revised arrangements
This an interim measure to allow for the use of videolink technology (particularly to avoid the unnecessary transport of prisoners during the pandemic) and to facilitate greater social distancing in a larger court building.
The Courts Service expect business to resume as normal in Gorey once circumstances permit and the situation will continue to be kept under tight review.
I appreciate that the current public health emergency is causing a great deal of anxiety for everyone and I am grateful for the efforts of all, including users of our courts, in supporting efforts to ensure continuity of administration of justice while upholding the public health measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus.