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15 Aug 2022

Covid numbers see changes made to Longford court schedules

Covid numbers see changes made to Longford court schedules

Major steps are being taken to reduce the number of people showing up for court sittings following huge increases in Covid-19 cases across the country in recent weeks.

The high incidence rate of the Omicron variant has resulted in unprecedented numbers of courts service staff, judges, practitioners and witnesses unable to attend at courthouses in recent weeks, a position that is reflected across the justice sector.

Patricia Ryan, President of the Circuit Court, has announced today that jury trials due to take place during this month's sittings of Longford Circuit Court will not take place before January 24, with the position to be reviewed on January 19.

Criminal cases listed for the next two weeks will go ahead with defendants on bail to be informed that they need not attend, and those in custody to appear via videolink.

District Court appeals will proceed where possible and all other criminal matters will be heard as usual including sentencing hearings, arraignments and bail applications subject to strict compliance with public health guidelines and the Courts’ own guidance in relation to face coverings.

Family Law and Civil matters will also proceed where possible.

Meanwhile, President of the District Court, Judge Paul Kelly, has said that courts scheduled for the weeks beginning January 10 until January 24 will see some changes.

Over the coming weeks, defendants of cases where the accused is in custody and cases where people are charged with new offences will be excused from attending if they are legally represented. Un-represented accused should attend in person.

Hearings in criminal cases will not proceed and will be remanded/adjourned unless the case involves domestic violence offences.

In relation to regulatory or road traffic matters, the accused, if represented, can produce documents or plead via a solicitor, if they are not in jeopardy.

All remands where the accused is in custody will be dealt with by video-link where possible and all family law business will proceed as normal until further notice. Civil and licensing matters will be adjourned to a date assigned by the court.

Speaking at Longford District Court on Tuesday of this week, Judge Bernadette Owens highlighted the upcoming difficulty that will be faced in the local courthouse over the coming weeks.

“We’re in for a very difficult couple of weeks ahead,” she said.

“Advice from the president’s office is to remind people again of health directions and regulations. Each judge is liaising with management with regard to issues emerging.

“I have taken a view that I’m not going to raise any issue if, case by case, solicitors liaise with gardaí to agree that defendants not attend court - that is on a case by case basis.”

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