Judge strikes out 250 summonses


THE Department of Justice is seeking legal advice from the Attorney General after a judge yesterday struck out 250 summonses at Milford District Court when it was disclosed that the court, which was sitting in a local hotel, did not have planning permission.

Reacting to the ruling, a spokeswoman for the department said the issue of planning permission was a matter for local authorities. However, she said the department had contacted Donegal County Council to "discuss the matter".

The spokeswoman would not comment on whether other charges could be struck out because of lack of planning permission. As a result of the ruling a young man may be released from St Patrick's Institution, Dublin.

In court yesterday, Judge Thomas Fitzpatrick, asked a solicitor representing the county council for clarification on whether the court sitting at the Milford Hotel had planning permission.

The solicitor for the county council said there was no requirement for planning permission as the court was only being used for occasional use. The hotel has full planning permission and has given space for a court on the premises for a number of years.

A local solicitor, Mr Paudge Dorrian, said holding a court in a licensed premises was not appropriate. Judge Fitzpatrick said Donegal was not well served by courts with such poor facilities.

The court space is used by other groups, including a karate club, in the evening.

Judge Fitzpatrick said because of the absence of planning permission, the court's business for the day was tainted with illegality. Most of the other cases heard yesterday involved minor offences.