CALLS have been made for the Central Criminal Court to once again sit in Limerick in an effort to speed up dealings with serious criminal matters.
The call comes after a Limerick victim’s family had to share a train carriage to Dublin with the accused.
Speaking in the Dáil on the Court Proceedings (Delays) Bill 2023, Limerick Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan said: “In Limerick, we have a state-of-the-art courthouse opened in 2018 on Mulgrave Street, that is rarely, if ever, fully occupied, despite a large backlog of cases that need to be addressed.”
“It has six courtrooms and it would be quite unusual to see more than half of these courtrooms in operation on any given day.
“Last week on the court roll over call there were 246 cases waiting in the Circuit Court. At present, those cases are all awaiting a trial by jury, those are just criminal cases. In the Civil Circuit Court there are around 1,000 cases waiting.”
Deputy Quinlivan said that facing a court appearance as an accused, a witness, or a victim is a stressful time in people’s lives.
“I recently raised a Parliamentary Question on the utilisation of the Limerick Courthouse. Subsequently, the Central Criminal Court began sitting in Limerick for a limited period.
“Yet now, despite state-of-the-art facilities, no more sittings of the Central Criminal Court are scheduled for Limerick for the remainder of the year.
“The failure to sit locally has a huge knock-on financial impact for those involved and their families. Rather than travelling to the courthouse and home, many must embark on long journeys to and from Dublin, often for extended periods.
“For those involved in lengthy trials, they often must travel up and down to Dublin many times in a month or spend days in expensive hotel rooms – the price of which are often beyond the means of many. I know one family who shared the same carriage as the accused on a train from Limerick to Dublin.”
He welcomed the recent commitment to 24 new judges in 2023, with a further 20 to follow. However, he believes, more needs to be done to ensure that trials are held in a fair and prompt manner.
“The backlog impacts countless lives. Many of these criminal cases are for serious crimes involving drug dealing on a major scale and such related issues.
“We need a permanent sitting of the Central Criminal Court in Limerick. We cannot accept having a specialist criminal courthouse where, at present, a number of courtrooms are unused every day whilst knowing that the judiciary are happy to sit in Limerick.”