Courts security a matter for gardaí, says Law Society

Courts Service begins profiling upcoming cases following protests at some courthouses

Chief executive of the Courts Service, Brendan Ryan, said this week that his officials were now profiling upcoming cases to assess if additional gardaí should be on duty when it was feared there might be protests. File photograph: Collins Courts

Chief executive of the Courts Service, Brendan Ryan, said this week that his officials were now profiling upcoming cases to assess if additional gardaí should be on duty when it was feared there might be protests. File photograph: Collins Courts

 

The Law Society has said it has received no complaints from members about alleged intimidation at courthouses during the hearing of home repossession cases, following reports that court officials had sought extra security for such hearings.

Chief executive of the Courts Service, Brendan Ryan, said this week that his officials were now profiling upcoming cases to assess if additional gardaí should be on duty when it was feared there might be protests.

Courts hearing repossession cases were disrupted last year and earlier this year by members of groups such as the Land League – notably in Castlebar, Co Mayo. Protests have also taken place in Wexford and Limerick.

In some cases, proceedings had been disrupted due to the protests.

In May last year, holy water was sprinkled and part of the rosary was recited at Castlebar Circuit Court, where 110 cases of repossession were listed against householders.

In September in the same court, a judge adjourned the proceedings when members of the Integrity Ireland group attempted to place the judge and a Garda superintendent under citizen’s arrest.

Mr Ryan said this week that no judges had had to leave the bench, but some country registrars have.

Mr Ryan told the Irish Independent that a high-level security review was conducted 18 months ago and new arrangements were recommended in a report last March.

Asked whether it had received complaints from its members about the protests and alleged intimidatory atmosphere during such cases, the Law Society said no solicitor had contacted it directly.

“We’ve certainly heard of incidents in and around courthouses where…protesters create an intimidating atmosphere in the court, so the court has had to rise on particular occasions and been unable to proceed and the level of Garda presence, if any, was completely inadequate to maintain order,” director general Ken Murphy said.

He alleged some of the protests went “way beyond” peaceful measures.

“It really is a matter for the local gardaí to ensure that such attempts at intimidation should not succeed. These are matters ultimately for the gardaí and the forces of law and order,” Mr Murphy said.

He added that solicitors would fulfil their professional obligations “regardless of these attempts at intimidation”.