‘HE has set a standard for others to follow,’ is how Plunkett Taaffe, president of the West Cork Bar Association, described Sgt Paul Kelly, West Cork’s first court presenter, on the occasion of his retirement.
‘Professional, well-prepared, accommodating and, above all, scrupulously fair,’ were just some of the words that Mr Taaffe used to describe the sergeant whose final court was in Bandon last Thursday.
‘We will miss him and would like to wish him, his wife, Mary, and their three daughters, all the best for the future,’ he added.
‘He mastered and managed an enormous workload and was well versed in all matters before the court. He kept us all on our toes but he did it pleasantly and it was a pleasure to deal with him at all stages,’ the solicitor concluded.
Supt Niall Crowley said Paul always had huge respect for the court and was also good in assisting gardaí coming through to the courts.
‘It is a sad day for me to see him here on his last court day. I certainly slept better at night when I knew Paul was in the front row dealing with the district court list,’ he said.
Ray Hennessy described the sergeant’s excellent work ethic saying: ‘He has the Roy Keane philosophy: Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.’
State solicitor Jerry Healy, also acknowledged the great assistance provided to him by Sgt Kelly.
Court clerk, Bernie Leonard, spoke of Paul’s generosity in sharing knowledge and being generous with his time.
‘On behalf of the court service, I would like to wish him a long and happy retirement with his family and thank you so much for everything you have done,’ she said.
Judge James McNulty paid tribute to Paul saying: ‘He is a credit to his family of origin and the community which reared him. And he is a credit to the family he has created around him here in Bandon.
‘He is also a credit to An Garda Síochána, which he has served with distinction, and served by his exemplary conduct as a police officer for 40 years.
‘Above all, he is a credit to himself – the man he is, and for the duties he has performed with such care and professionalism, as a court presenter in West Cork.’
Sgt Kelly thanked his colleagues who entrusted him with the honour of representing them in court, as well as the prison and probation services, and the kind caretaker Danno McSweeney too.
The retiring officer thanked members of the legal profession for ‘buying into the court presenter’s role.’ He said this was a new initiative for An Garda Síochána and he had to ‘sell it by ensuring that the court presenter’s office was there for you, to assist with all of your enquiries, irrespective of the location of the court, and become a one-stop-shop.’
A special word of thanks was reserved for the members of the Court Services, especially Bernie Leonard, Paudie O’Mahony and the chief registrar Len MacCarthy.
Sgt Kelly thanked Judge James McNulty for his ‘acceptance, patience and guidance’ and described how his courts always demanded ‘proficiency, performance, professionalism and progression.
‘I loved my time in An Garda Síochána, in all the different units and sections that I served in, said Paul.
‘I was honoured to be the very first court presented in district number 18. It was a daunting task. I had to prove to the court that it wasn’t my rank, or the colour of my shirt that was going to define my role in the court, and it is my greatest privilege and honour to retire as a court presenter from Judge McNulty’s court.’