Fianna Fáil TD Robert Troy has written to the Minister for Justice seeking clarification on the status of Athlone Circuit Court.
This action was taken by Deputy Troy following publication of a Circuit Court schedule for 2018, which does not list any sittings for the Athlone venue.
“It is quite bizarre that a town of Athlone’s size would suddenly see its Circuit Court services removed in what appears to be a very secretive and clandestine fashion,” Deputy Troy said. “There has been no public awareness or consultation on this matter and it seems the Department of Justice have decided to remove the service and hope that nobody notices.”
Deputy Troy believes that the possible withdrawal of this service could have far-reaching effects for the citizens of the town, which boasts a population of more than 21,000 people. It would seem that any court service users among that population are now expected to make the 60 mile round trip to Mullingar should they need to attend a sitting.
“This will be totally impractical in the long term,” Deputy Troy said. “We only need to look at the public transport links between both towns to see the difficulties with this scenario. At present, there is a bus service which leaves Athlone at 9.30am and arrives in Mullingar sometime after 10.30am. As the Circuit Court commences at 10am, this would be too late to arrive so what are non-car owners to do? Spend the night in Mullingar in order to be on time for the court sitting?”
Deputy Troy has also criticised the lack of communication on this matter: “I have spoken to a number of legal professionals in recent weeks who are shocked and dismayed by Athlone’s omission from the roster. They have not had any warning or communication on this development. I am sure also, that none of the citizens of Athlone have been consulted about this development. I have asked the Minister to provide me with clarification on this matter and to issue an assurance on the future of Athlone Circuit Court.