Holding court at the bar- Judge has to rule from Tipp pub
IT WASN'T quite murder on the dancefloor -- but a judge sat under disco lights yesterday to hear a series of charges relating to late-night disorder and drink driving.
O'Donovans Bar and Restaurant in Ballina, Co Tipperary, was a makeshift courthouse after a desperate search for a new court venue for nearby Killaloe, which is in Co Clare.
The Courts Service struck a deal with local publican Michael O'Donovan, who opened his premises for Judge Aeneas McCarthy.
The judge looked down upon gardai, solicitors and court users from a raised stage normally reserved for bands performing at the venue.
But the disco lights that loomed above were switched off for the court sitting.
A screen had been pulled down over the bar, just 10 metres from the judge's bench, although the taps for Guinness, Heineken and Carlsberg and bottles of vodka and gin were visible to the court.
The move ends a 64-mile round trip to Ennis that court users have been forced to take since September, when court sittings were suspended when the Kincora Hotel went into receivership.
The new venue is just 1km away from the old one and the court will sit there for a trial period of three months.
Having had the morning to experience the new surroundings, Judge McCarthy said yesterday that the venue was a temporary measure by the Courts Service, stating he found it "to be satisfactory".
Mr O'Donovan said he was happy with how yesterday's court hearing went.
"As long as there are no problems and it runs smoothly, I don't mind," he added.
A spokesman for the Courts Service said where there was no court house available, alternative buildings such as community centres, halls, hotels and "in some circumstances halls attached to public houses" could be used. However, he said it was not commonplace.
He said in this instance the court was being held in a hall attached to a public house. The bar is not open during court times.
The move comes after the Courts Service rearranged district court venues, with changes to Athenry, Ennistymon and Shannon courts.
Solicitor Chris Lynch said that having the court in a room where there is a bar "doesn't make any difference".
He added: "The venue is fine. It is functional. I have sat in courts in a lot worse places. This is warm and clean and has capacity to fit the crowd.
"I have worked at a lot of court venues where function rooms and community halls have been used.
"I'm delighted the sittings are back in Killaloe as there was a major problem in people not being able to get to Ennis because there is no direct public transport link.
"Ideally, we would like the old courthouse (in Killaloe) restored, but this is the second-best option."