Retiring State solicitor takes swipe at ‘completely unacceptable’ conditions in county courthouse

Retiring Limerick State Solicitor Aidan Judge and his wife Mary and with Chief Superintendent Derek Smart. Photo: Bernie English.

THE OUTGOING State Solicitor for Limerick fired a final shot across the bow of court services, saying that conditions in the old Newcastle West courthouse are “completely unacceptable”.

Aidan Judge widely thanked all those he worked with during his 26 years in the role at a small gathered held at the county courthouse.

He also said that, in all his years of practice in public prosecution, he believes “the biggest threat to the fabric of our society as we speak is the availability of cocaine”.

In his farewell speech, Mr Judge said he is “publicly calling on the court services to put up or shut up. They have been repeatedly asked questions about the courthouse here which have not been answered.

“We are left in this courthouse with little or no facilities, no video link (to the prison), no way of viewing CCTV footage, and we have regularly had to decamp to the court in Kilmallock. It’s completely unacceptable”.

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Mr Judge paid tribute to the Gardaí, who he says have become the target of “unfair and baseless cynicism” in recent times.

“They are dedicated to the enforcement of the law and their duties are ever increasing.”

Citing a rise in cybercrime and drugs, the outgoing Limerick State Solicitor said that “when I started out, I was processing 10 to 14 books of evidence (prosecutions for serious crime) a year – now it is 35 to 40”.

He also paid tribute to the prison and probation service personnel, who he said “like the Gardaí are under funded and under resourced, but always professional”.

Mr Judge also paid tribute to his own law firm staff, particularly Ms Margaret Dalton, who he described as “kind, affable, industrious, and discreet”.

On behalf of the solicitors of Limerick, Ted McCarthy said that Mr Judge “has been decent, honest, and diligent in all his dealings. The people of Limerick should be most grateful for the way he has carried out all his duties.”

Mr McCarthy, one of the foremost criminal defenders on the Limerick circuit, used a sporting analogy when he said that Mr Judge “left nothing on the pitch”.

“When a game was over, he shook hands and moved on to the next case. It was never anything personal. The mark of the man is honesty and decency.”

On behalf of Limerick Gardaí, Chief Superintendent Derek Smart thanked Mr Judge for his support over the years, telling him that “you have ensured that the voices of the victims of crime have been heard”.

Presiding over the court sitting in Newcastle West, Judge Carol Anne Coolican said that the work of the State Solicitor in Limerick has “increased exponentially” since Mr Judge began his career.

“He has managed this with great calm. He is an old world gentleman, with qualities of decency, fairness and conviction. He has an innate sense of justice. He is wise and learned.

“There is international acceptance that judicial conduct should be guided by what’s called the ‘Bangalore principals’ – independence, protection, propriety, equality, confidence, and diligence. These principals are standards for the conduct of judges – the most honourable Aidan Judge has them in spades”.

Mr Judge will be replaced in the State Solicitor’s position by Mr Brendan Gill.