FERMOY TO RETAIN COURT SITTINGS
A statement this week issued to The Avondhu by the Courts Service confirms that, despite rumours to the contrary, District Court sittings are to be retained in Fermoy. There had been strong rumours circulating that the town was about to lose its actual court sittings. The statement did, however, confirm that a review of the District Court offices has been carried out.
Cllr Michael Hanley expressed his concern in relation to the possible downgrading of Fermoy in a number of instances. He told The Avondhu, “Mallow now seems to be taking over as the hub town in North Cork. We’re losing our garda divisional headquarters and now there seems to be a threat hanging over the services offered at the court house despite the fact that over €7m was spent on upgrading that particular facility".
In response to a query from The Avondhu, the Courts Service replied with the following statement, “The Courts Service is committed in its action plans under ‘Sustaining Progress’ and ‘Towards 2016’ to a review of the offices and structure of the Service. The Courts Service has completed a review of the District Court offices. Under the review full consideration was taken of how users of local offices can be facilitated locally".
"The review was carried out in the context of: A lessening of the need to attend court offices, the changing nature of the work of court offices which has been brought about by new technology and the various methods that practitioners and the public use nowadays to interact with the offices, e.g. legal diary online and available via mobile handheld technology and court lists e-mailed to offices, electronic payments, electronic receipt of summonses, court forms online, small claims online and so on".
The spokesperson for the Courts Service further added, “The vast majority of towns and villages in Ireland have never had a District Court office in them – this includes most of those that are venues for actual court sittings as well. These towns and their citizens have not been disadvantaged by this historic absence of court offices and all are even less so due to remote access to the services".
“Only 44 towns have District Court offices while 170 venues are used for court hearings. The manner in which services are delivered continues to change with the introduction of electronic family law payments, and the issuing of electronic summonses now not necessitating the attendance at court offices of the recipients of such payments or of an Garda Siochana seeking summonses etc.”
“In considering how best to provide the service our offices offer, regard was also taken of the difficulties experienced by offices with only two or three staff in providing a continuous quality service. In such small offices problems can be encountered in covering annual holidays and sick leave".
"Similarly it is very difficult in small offices to implement all the family friendly policies which the Government and social partners have agreed such as flexi time, job share, part-time work and term time.”
The statement concluded, “We are at the stage of finalising plans as a result of this review and in the near future will issue a statement regarding any changes.”
It seems as if the court in Fermoy is safe for now but the implications for the staff and general users of the office facility remain unclear.
Thursday 26th June 6:00pm