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Written Answers. - Civil and Family Law Cases.

Wednesday, 8 May 1996

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 465 No. 1

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 168. Cecilia Keaveney Information on Cecilia Keaveney Zoom on Cecilia Keaveney  asked the Minister for Justice Information on Nora Owen Zoom on Nora Owen  the plans, if any, she has to review the District and Circuit Court areas with specific emphasis in County Donegal, in view of the long family law lists and the significant backlogs in civil law lists; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9247/96]

Minister for Justice (Mrs. Owen): Information on Nora Owen Zoom on Nora Owen Delays in the hearing of court cases in County Donegal as in other areas are a matter of serious concern. To address this problem the Courts and Court Officers Act, 1995, increased the maximum number of judges who may be appointed to the various courts. I have obtained Government approval for the appointment of 15 additional judges i.e. three to the Supreme Court; [178] two to the High Court; seven to the Circuit Court and three to the District Court. To date three additional judges have been appointed to the Supreme Court and three judges have been appointed to the resulting vacancies in the High Court. The remaining judicial appointments will be made as quickly as possible. I am confident that the appointment of additional judges will allow the backlog of civil and family law cases to be addressed.

In relation to a review of the District and Circuit Courts areas, I would remind the Deputy that I established the Working Group on a Courts Commission in October last to examine all aspects of the operation of the courts system. Reform of the family courts structure, in particular, is the subject of the recent Law Reform Commission Report on Family Courts. The recommendations it contains call for a combination of structural and legal reforms and a major injection of resources. I will be considering these recommendations in the context of available resources and the Government's commitment to complete the steps necessary to strengthen family courts. The report will also, I expect, be given full consideration by the Working Group on a Courts Commission.

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