District court hearings curtailed due to Omicron wave

January 18th, 2022 7:05 AM

By Kieran O'Mahony

Skibbereen courthouse: sittings are only for urgent cases.

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DISTRICT court sittings across West Cork are to be severely curtailed for the next fortnight due to the rising numbers of Covid-19 cases.

Earlier this week, court chief clerk Leonard MacCarthy sent out a circular to solicitors, gardaí and the press advising of the revised changes and new times for court sittings for the next two weeks.

Sittings will be limited to ‘urgent business only’, which includes both serious criminal and urgent family law matters.

Speaking to The Southern Star, Mr MacCarthy said a ‘pro-active approach’ is being taken due to the increase in Covid numbers.

‘This decision was made after consultation between Judge James McNulty and myself and following guidelines issued by the president of the District Court and the Courts Service,’ he said.

Court sittings will now be at noon and  at 2pm each day and all other cases – included those listed for hearing – will be routinely adjourned for two weeks for mention and then to fix a new date for plea, directions or hearing, as may be required. ‘Health and safety is the priority now and solicitors and their clients are encouraged to stay away from court venues but court presenters for An Garda Síochána will need to attend each day as usual,’ he explained.

‘The same guidance applies to garda inspector prosecutors, local authority prosecutors, IFI prosecutors, Tusla solicitors, social worker witnesses, Legal Aid Board solicitors, probation officers, GoSafe witnesses and traffic wardens.

‘Excused and stood down for this week and next week,’ said Mr MacCarthy.

Mr MacCarthy also said that if any solicitor is ‘unable or unwilling to attend court’, then Judge James McNulty will just adjourn the matter for 14 days.

‘Any criminal prosecutions which are plea-based can proceed to penalty or next step. Any childcare or family law cases, or applications which are urgent, will be listed for hearing and will be heard. Likewise, any agreed variations in custody, access and maintenance.’

These procedures will remain in place until Friday January 21st.

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