Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Ceisteanna (124)

Jim O'Callaghan

Ceist:

124. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the steps being taken to reduce the delay for the trial of criminal proceedings in the Dublin Circuit Court; if further judges will be assigned to conduct criminal trials on the circuit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21522/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy is aware, under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service, which is independent in exercising its functions. Furthermore, the scheduling of court cases and the allocation of Circuit Court business is a matter for the President of the Circuit Court and the presiding judge who are, under the Constitution, independent in the exercise of their judicial functions.  

However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the Courts Service has advised that the waiting time for the hearing of criminal trials in the Dublin Circuit Court increased to 14 months by the end of 2017 and that this is directly attributable to the number of very long trials coming before the courts, including some particularly complex cases. 

The Courts Service has further advised that delays in the hearing of cases can occur for a number of reasons, many of which are outside the control of the Courts and the Courts Service, for example, the unavailability of a witness or vital evidence, delays in the furnishing of reports or because the parties and/or legal practitioners are not ready to proceed on allocated dates. This gives rise to adjournments which can have a major impact on the time taken to complete the hearing of a case and on the number of cases which can be disposed of in a court sitting. 

The Courts Service has informed me that the President of the Circuit Court assigns 6 judges to criminal business in Dublin and that every effort is made to maintain the assignment of 6 judges to dealing with criminal business.  Waiting times are kept under ongoing review and the Courts Service continues to work with the President of the Circuit Court to support the efficient disposal of court cases, to ensure that waiting times are kept to a minimum and to target judicial resources at the areas of greatest need.