Court Service faces ‘significant challenges’ over venues for jury trials amid pandemic

No courthouse in Co Kerry has video link facilities

Jury facilities were considered inadequate to be able to host trials in the rundown courthouse in Tralee this term. Above, Ashe Street from Tralee courthouse, Co Kerry. Photograph: Domnick Walsh/Eye Focus

Jury facilities were considered inadequate to be able to host trials in the rundown courthouse in Tralee this term. Above, Ashe Street from Tralee courthouse, Co Kerry. Photograph: Domnick Walsh/Eye Focus

 

The Courts Service has said it is facing “very significant challenges resuming and operating jury trials” within the parameters of current health guidance.

It is not possible to run jury trials in every court venue which was in use for such work up to February this year. Some 12 provincial venues nationwide have been deemed suitable with enough safe capacity for jurors and others in circuit court trials, it said.

The statement has come in response to growing unease in Co Kerry that justice is being delayed.

No courthouse in Co Kerry has video link facilities and jury facilities were considered inadequate to be able to host trials in the rundown courthouse in Tralee this term. Instead, some 23 Co Kerry trials have been run in the new complex in Limerick.

Witnesses as well as legal teams have to travel to and from Limerick, a two- or three-hour journey.

It is highly unlikely there will be any criminal court trials in Co Kerry next term, it has emerged.

Killarney solicitor Padraig O’Connell said the prospect of no Kerry trials next term was “utterly unacceptable.” A number of people have been on remand and in custody since last March, awaiting trial, and have been unable to receive family visits because of Covid-19 restrictions.

Meanwhile, thousands of summons have also backed up in the district courts in Co Kerry where space is hugely curtailed because of the pandemic.