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Plan to give gardaí names of 'no-show' jurors


Judge's gavel.

Judge's gavel.

Judge's gavel.

The names of people who fail to turn up for jury service could be passed on to gardaí under a pilot scheme to tackle chronic jury shortages.

The move comes as criminal trials are being delayed by a number of factors, including insufficient numbers turning up for jury service.

Increasing numbers of people are also being excused for jury service, with many citing work and family commitments and the fact that they cannot afford to serve due to financial difficulties.

There is no payment for jury service and travelling expenses are not allowed, an issue that the judiciary has repeatedly raised with the authorities.

Yesterday, 44 potential jurors summonsed as part of efforts to empanel a jury for the trial of three former officials from Anglo Irish Bank were excused after disclosing their reasons in confidence to Circuit Court Judge Patricia Ryan.

And four trials were postponed at the Central Criminal Court, where the most serious offences are tried, because of ongoing juror shortages.

Last night, the Courts Service said it was engaged in a process of making the administration of jury service summonses and notices more streamlined and centralised, adding that any changes to jury service were legal and policy matters for the Oireachtas.

"We are also looking at introducing a pilot project in terms of, in the future, routinely passing on information to gardaí regarding those who fail to report for jury service," said a spokesperson.

Two years ago the Government introduced new laws providing for the appointment of up to three extra jurors to deal with lengthy criminal trials.

The Department of Justice says a further 56 recommendations by the Law Reform Commission are under consideration as part of a new Juries Bill.

Irish Independent