asked the Minister for Justice whether he has received representations regarding the desirability of holding a Circuit Court in Athy in order to convenience litigants, witnesses, counsel, etc., and whether he proposes to accede to this request.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Holding of Circuit Court in Athy.
The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative.
As regards the second part, the places where the Circuit Court sits are regulated by Rules of Court which are made by the Rules Committee. The function of the Minister for Justice is limited to giving or refusing his approval of the committee's proposals. The committee has not, up to the present, suggested that sittings of the Circuit Court should be held in Athy.
Has the Minister any function in respect of suggesting to the Rules Committee that a very serious inconvenience is caused to litigants, witnesses, counsel, etc., by reason of the fact that they have to travel from South Kildare to Naas in order to be present at court hearings and will he consider bringing to the notice of the Rules Committee the desirability of holding a Circuit Court in Athy, which is a very large town? The holding of a court there would be a considerable convenience to litigants, counsel, witnesses, etc.
It is not a matter for the Minister. He has to say whether he will approve or disapprove, but the attention of the secretary of this parish council was drawn to the rule. He was told it was a matter for the Rules Committee and that he could address any request of that kind to the secretary of the committee, or that, if it were a matter for the emergency only, it could be done through the Circuit Court judge under the Emergency Powers Act. Either of these courses is open to him, and then it will be a matter for the Minister to say whether or not he will agree.
Everybody knows that the Minister for Justice is a very artful Minister. Will he mind transmitting the representations he has received to the Rules Committee for their consideration?
It would not be for me to do that, because this is a matter that will come back to me for a final decision. When the representations were received the secretary of the parish council was referred to the secretary of the Rules Committee. There is nothing very artful about that, that I can see.
Who constitutes the Rules Committee?
I cannot say exactly who the members are, but the secretary is the Registrar for Dublin City. I think every solicitor knows all about the Rules Committee, and matters of the kind mentioned by the Deputy have to be referred to them. If this arises out of the emergency conditions, there is power granted to the Circuit Court judge to recommend changes of the sittings, if he wishes to do so. If the change is to be of a temporary nature, it is referred to the judge, but if it is intended to be a permanent change, the application is made to the secretary of the Rules Committee. After the committee has come to a decision, the matter comes up finally for consideration by the Minister for Justice.