I raise the decision to cancel the High Court list in Kilkenny at short notice. When the High Court sits in Kilkenny each year it deals with quite a number of cases pretty efficiently. It was explained to the president of the Kilkenny Solicitors Bar Association that this cancellation resulted from a shortage of judges. The President of the High Court informed the local bar association of this. It is high-handed. This court serves the region very well and deals with a great number of cases. Many people who are listed for a hearing have been waiting for years. Having built themselves up emotionally to go to court and have their cases heard, they were told, at short notice, that the sitting would not proceed. The President of the High Court should have shown a little more consideration for the citizens who have to appear before that court.
The civil court list was also cancelled at very short notice. Again the reason given was that there are a shortage of judges. Is that the case? Is there such a shortage of judges that the provincial court sittings have to be cancelled at the last minute? Is the Courts Service, under the President of the High Court who wrote to the local association, so dysfunctional that it could not have arranged for matters to be dealt with differently? Is the system so out of touch with the people who appear before the courts that it could not, or would not, give consideration to the serious difficulties this has caused for the individuals in question? Who is in charge? Is this an issue of efficiency or, as was stated, a case of there not being enough judges available to hear these cases? What happened in the week in question? Was the backlog in the courts so great? I hope the Minister will tell me if that was the case because I want to understand the reason for the decision to cancel the list at short notice. I appreciate the separation of powers, before the Minister starts telling me about it. This is not about the separation of powers. This is about time management for judges and respecting members of the public and citizens whom we all represent.
What are the Minister's views on the excuse used, that is, the lack of judges? Is this an effort by the Judiciary to put pressure on the Minister to appoint even more judges? Is there a business case for the appointment of judges at which I can look? This decision is unsatisfactory in respect of both the High Court list and the civil case list. I want an explanation.