O’Mahony welcomes courts consultation process before any decisions
Mayo Fine Gael TD, John O’Mahony, this week announced that he had secured assurances from the Courts Service that it would carry out an extensive consultative process to be engaged in before any decision is taken on the future of District Court sittings in Westport, Ballyhaunis, Swinford, and Achill.
Deputy O’Mahony has had it confirmed to him by the Courts Service that following a review of all courts in the country, the aforementioned courts in Mayo have been identified to be considered for closure subject to a detailed assessment and the preparation of a business case. “The review referred to is a national one and is based on a number of headings- caseload/sittings; physical condition; ownership; alternative venue; county town/staff at location; cells; accessibility (disabled access) and technology.
“It is important to remember that just because the Courts Service has identified those four venues it cannot be taken for granted that automatic closure will follow. I have had it confirmed to me that a very detailed consultative process involving all court users will get under way next month and any decision that is taken will be taken on the basis of that process.
“It is vital that all the relevant stakeholders in the courts service here in Mayo make it abundantly clear to those carrying out the review of the importance of the court sitting in the respective areas,” he said.
Deputy O’Mahony went on to say that communication between his office and the Courts Service was welcome and it displayed a willingness on the part of the Courts Service to engage with the courts users. “I made it my business some time ago to communicate with the Courts Service and get them to explain the rationale behind their decisions,” he said. “Heretofore, we have often had a situation whereby the Courts Service would simply announce a decision and leave it at that. This is a change from that policy and I do welcome that, following on from my representation, that more and more people are getting involved in the processes that will lead to the ultimate decisions. As I said before though, it’s absolutely vital that the local communities display to those making the decisions the importance of retaining the courts service in their towns.”