Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice, Martin Kenny TD, has today called on the Minister for Justice to expedite the appointment of judges to the district and circuit courts across the state.
His comments come as waiting lists for cases to be heard continue to grow at lower courts.
Speaking after raising the issue in the Dáil today, Teachta Kenny said:
“There are extensive waiting lists throughout the courts system, but they are most significant at district and circuit court level. These are courts dealing with assaults, harassment, burglary, and other crimes, where these crimes have had such a significant effect on victims and the community that the DPP has ordered charges to be brought.
“Judges at lower court level also preside over the family courts, and make decisions on the granting of protection and barring orders to protect survivors of domestic violence. The minister confirmed that there are plans underway to develop new family law courts which will relieve the pressure on the district courts system and I am hopeful this will expedite things.
“While I understand and accept that a report has been prepared for the Department of Justice, a report on why more judges should be appointed is of little use to those awaiting justice to be served after they have been the victim of a crime, or for those fleeing a domestic violence situation. These people cannot await a report, it is as simple as that.
“There was no delay in the appointment of additional judges to the High Court, however the appointment of additional judges at lower level courts is stalled until a report has been laid before the Dáil. Furthermore, the government hobby horse excuse of knock-on effects from pandemic restrictions was also rolled out to explain the delay.
“As part of our Alternative Budget last month, Sinn Féin committed to the immediate appointment of judges and support staff to the district and circuit courts. From the conversations I have had with both staff, and the victims of crime, it is clear that the courts are unable to provide the very basic right of timely access to justice because of the shortage of judges.
“I have asked the government to heed Sinn Féin’s call for additional judicial appointments in order to offer the basic entitlement of access to justice and protection to those brave enough to seek assistance from the Courts Service.”