Tuesday 24 October 2017

'I was a nervous wreck' - Woman forced to stand in cold hallway with ex-husband for four hours before divorce case called

'I was a nervous wreck. I cried for about three hours after I came out of that place. There wasn't even a chair to sit on...'

Stock picture
Stock picture

Dónal Nolan

A woman involved in a divorce proceeding at Killarney courthouse last week has spoken of the trauma she endured after she was forced to stand in a hallway for four hours next to her ex-husband, from whom she had split in acrimonious circumstances, waiting for her case to be called.

She cried for three hours after an ordeal she said added insult to injury at an already deeply traumatic time for her family. And there wasn't even a toilet available for her use in that time - she eventually had to rush across to a hotel in a panic, fearing her case would be called while she was away from the building.

The Kerry court service has meanwhile acknowledged the shortcomings of facilities in the county, but insists it is doing all it can to expedite the case load at a time of 'constant pressure'.

The woman, who wishes to remain private given the sensitive circumstances of her ordeal, said she was forced to stand in a barely-heated hallway for more than four hours without having been given any indication as to when her case would come before the sitting judge.

Throughout that time, she had to endure the unbearable tension of standing alongside her ex-husband, from whom she had split in painful circumstances that resulted in continuing acrimony between the pair.

"I was a nervous wreck after the day. I cried for about three hours after I came out of that place. There wasn't even a chair to sit on and the few rooms that were open were being used by solicitors," the woman told The Kerryman.

"For about three of the hours I was standing there he (her ex-husband) was looking at me...I was not the better of it for a good two to three days afterwards."

She suffered further indignity when it became apparent the toilet in the building was locked.

"I eventually found someone who told me where the toilet was but it was locked and a woman told me to go to the hotel across the road. I had to find my solicitor to tell him I had to go across to the hotel to use the toilet as I had no idea when my case was going to be called."

The management of the case load is based on prior information from solicitors as to the likely length of individual proceedings, among various other details, the service explained.

The Court Service said the lists are published online in such a way as to give people an idea of when their cases are likely to be heard, prior to proceedings.

However, the woman said she was given no indication as to when the case was going to come before the judge, beyond her solicitor finally learning at 1.15pm it would take a little longer.

She eventually came before the court after 2pm - more than four hours after she arrived.

People Before Profit campaigner Brian Finucane, who spoke with the woman after her ordeal, described the situation as 'ridiculous'.

"It beggars belief that in this day and age, families, who are already suffering the intense pain of separation, are being forced through a legal system in this manner. It is ridiculous.

"To think there isn't even a chair or bathroom available to them, yet they're often paying thousands to barristers to represent them. The indignity of having to suffer through an ordeal like that is unacceptable," Mr Finucane said.

He now hopes to raise the woman's plight in the Dáil through alliance colleague Richard Boyd Barrett's office.

"Even in non-acrimonious circumstances, separation is traumatic for people. I will be trying to get this matter raised in the Dáil now through Deputy Boyd Barrett's office so that families might not have to go through unnecessarily harsh situations like this under already difficult circumstances," Mr Finucane added.


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