Judge to boycott opening of new courthouse
The long-standing animosity between local District Court Judge John Neilan and Minister for Justice Michael McDowell is set to deepen even further after Judge Neilan announced this week that he would not be attending the opening of Longford Courthouse later this summer. Judge Neilan told this week's sitting of Granard District Court that he would not be attending the opening of the refurbished Courthouse in August because he said he would not share a podium with the Justice Minister. Ju
Local solicitor John Quinn told the judge that he believed that the refurbished courthouse is to be opened later this summer. Judge Neilan replied that the courthouse would be open when the Minister "tells the Court Service that he is coming down so that he can gain as many plaudits as he can".
Judge Neilan added that he would not be attending the official opening of the refurbished courthouse as he would not share a platform with the Justice Minister.
"I wouldn't share the platform with him (Minster Mc Dowell] if he was opening the gates of Heaven for me," Judge Neilan told the courtroom.
The absence of Judge Neilan from the opening of the refurbished courthouse would be highly unusual as he is the resident district court judge in this area. The opening of the courthouse, which has been delayed until August, will undoubtedly be a major occasion as Longford people have been waiting over ten years for the landmark development , which stands in the heart of Longford town, to be refurbished. It is expected that Justice Minister Michael McDowell will attend the event as well as a large number of local and national politicians.
Judge Neilan's comments follow a long-running stand-off between himself and the Justice Minister. In 2004, Judge Neilan announced that he would jail all convicted drunk drivers for a week pending sentence. However, legal experts, including Minister McDowell commented that such a move would be illegal.
Minister McDowell said at the time that no good legal reason existed to remand a convicted drunk driver before handing down a sentence. Reacting to the statement by the Minister, Judge Neilan said the comments were made to "intimidate and humiliate" him. The row became national news at the time.
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Friday 24 May 2013
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