Wednesday 25 April 2018

Kerry county registrar challenges failure to replace staff

THE officer appointed to run the Circuit Court office in Co Kerry has brought a legal challenge over the alleged failure of the Courts Service to provide him with replacements for key staff who have retired.

Kerry Co Registrar Padraig Burke, who is also the county sheriff and returning officer for elections, says he is being seriously impeded in the discharge of his functions by the failure to address his concerns over staffing.

He claims that since March last year, following the retirement of four  experienced frontline staff,  including the chief clerk, his office in Centrepoint, Tralee has been down three out of a total complement of nine staff.

Mr Burke, who was appointed County Registrar by the government in 2006, is seeking a number of declarations from the High Court including that the Courts Service is obliged to respect his powers, duties and functions.

He wants a declaration that principles of natural and constitutional justice,  and basic fair procedures, have been "inadequately respected" by the defendant.  He also wants a declaration protecting the powers and functions of his office.

The Courts Service  denies it has failed to replace essential frontline staff in the manner Mr Burke alleges or that it has failed to engage effectively with him in relation to the matter.  

It also denies his claim that that alleged inaction over  recruitment threatens the morale of staff in the Kerry Circuit Court office.

It says the declarations he seeks are vague and would be futile, confer no benefit and serve no useful purpose if granted.

It also says that in the light of severe budgetary constraints and Government policy on public service recruitment, it has had to prioritise resources in relation to all court staff appointments around the country.

The case before Mr Justice John Hedigan resumes next Thursday.

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