February 24, 2023
Pa Daly TD welcomes report of Judicial Planning Working Group

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Law Reform, Equality and Integration, Pa Daly TD, has today welcomed the report of the Judicial Planning Working Group. The report recommends the number of judges be increased, along with other reforms.

Teachta Daly said:

“I welcome the publication of this report. It is clear that the courts service has been struggling severely for some time now. On Fine Gael’s watch, the Justice system has been deprived of the resources and investment it needs to deliver justice. Too many victims and ordinary plaintiffs are forced to wait for long periods, as courts struggle to keep on top of case loads.

“It is clear that major change is needed to ensure that the system is fit for purpose. The establishment of the Working Group was an important recognition by the government that the situation in courts across the country was untenable. Justice delayed is justice denied and the delays in many areas of law, especially family cases, were intolerable.

“In addition, a damning report by the European Commission, published last year, ranked Ireland as the worst country in Europe with regard to judicial resourcing. The state has 3.27 judges per 100,000 people in 2020, below the European average of 17.6 judges.

“This has real impacts on ordinary people and their access to justice, as well as having an impact on our economic competitiveness. Steps to address this are important and the Minister has promised 24 new judges in the coming weeks, with a further 20 to follow.  However this increase, while in line with the recommendations of the Working Group, would still leave Ireland well below the European average in respect of judges per capita.

“Increasing resources is of course only one part of the picture and other moves such as a judicial resources planning model and more flexible working arrangements are a positive. The review of circuit court and district court areas must bear in mind access to justice for isolated rural areas rather than just seek efficiencies.

“Overall, the report is a good starting point for reform of the courts. However the independence of judges in managing courts is important to preserve and implementation will be key.

“Sinn Féin are determined to see a justice system which is fit for purpose. Victims must be able to have confidence that they will receive fair and timely justice in the courts when they need it.”

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