The judge who presides over the circuit criminal court in Clare has stated that the whole court system is going to come to a standstill due to the lack of judges and lack of court staff.
On the final day of criminal sittings at Ennis Circuit Court in 2017, Judge Gerald Keys said that the failure of Government to appoint new judges is resulting in the mounting backlog of cases before the criminal circuit court in Clare.
In court, Judge Keys was dealing with an 81 strong circuit court list and he said, “There is a lack of staff, a lack of judges and lack of everything and it is grinding to a halt – the whole system is going to come to a stand-still.”
The circuit court sits four times a year in County Clare for a number of weeks each time to hear criminal cases while other days are listed for sentencing and the call over of cases.
In court, Judge Keys was in Ennis to assign dates for a four week long court sitting in February for 52 cases earmarked to go to trial but Judge Keys was told that a number of the cases could last in excess of one week.
A further 22 cases were down for sentence with the cases adjourned for dates this year for finalisation.
Judge Keys said that there is a need for permanent sittings for criminal cases in the circuit.
Judge Keys was one of the three judges to sit on the long running Mahon Planning Tribunal and he said, “That is where we are heading at the moment.”
He said, “That is not a criticism of the Courts Service or the gardaí or anything like that- it is a failure to appoint sufficient number of judges to deal with the burden of work, not alone in this court but in other courts are facing.”
He added, “I am not criticising anyone here. Those who have the power to get over all of this can appoint more staff and more judges and we would have a more efficient system.”