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Written Answers - Courts Service

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 754 No. 3

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 362.  Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten  asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter  the steps which are being taken to hold all remand hearings for prisoners in Castlerea Prison at Harristown Court, Roscommon; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6458/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The position is that the Courts are, subject only to the constitution and the law, independent in the exercise of their judicial functions and the conduct of any court case is a matter for the presiding judge. In order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the Courts Service has informed me that the place to which a person appearing before the District Court is remanded is at the discretion of the presiding judge.

Section 27(3) of the Courts of Justice Act, 1953 provides that the judge may transfer or adjourn business to another occasion at the same court or another occasion at some other place in his district. Section 5 of the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1997 provides that notwithstanding section 27(3), the judge before which a person first appears charged with a particular offence may remand a person in custody to appear at a sitting of the District Court (alternative court) in the District Court District in which the prison or place of detention in [486]which a defendant is being held or a District Court District adjoining that District Court District.

The Deputy will appreciate that, as outlined above, this issue is one for the judiciary who are independent in their functions. I understand that section 5 of the 1997 Act is used regularly where appropriate in relation to Harristown Court. A working group to identify efficiencies in the Circuit and District Courts which includes members of the judiciary is currently examining how this practice can be more widely deployed in other locations where appropriate.

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