Justice official apologises to judges
A senior Department of Justice official has formally apologised to the President of the District Court after he claimed judges do not take burglary offences seriously.
Assistant Secretary General Jimmy Martin made his claims at the Dáil's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) last week where he accused the judiciary of not taking a serious stance on the crime.
"Our perception is that the judiciary didn't view burglary as a serious offence," he said, during a discussion on offences committed by repeat offenders while out on bail.
"We had a particular difficulty with burglary where the evidence from the guards suggests there were a lot of burglars who were effectively professional criminals," he said.
"They would be arrested by the guards, charged, released on bail, then commit more burglaries, and be released again, and I think there was one incident where it happened six or seven times in one month," he told PAC.
Mr Martin's comments are thought to have caused some discontent among District Court judges, prompting him to write to the President of the District Court, Judge Rosemary Horgan, offering his "apologies" over the controversy. The Courts Service said the letter has been circulated to all judges sitting in the District Courts.
According to the letter, Mr Martin said it was "a matter of professional and personal concern that I would be perceived as having been critical of the judiciary".
In the letter, Mr Martin said he was writing to clarify remarks made before the committee. He said his intentions were to explain to deputies that the grounds for refusing bail were limited, and that it was never his intention to criticise the judiciary.