Court business went on as normal in Ballyhaunis on Tuesday despite the expectation that the July sitting of the court would be the last one in the east Mayo venue, following a decision by the Court Service to close that courthouse and the one in Swinford in July.
The confusion also led to one solicitor apologising to the court for being late as she had gone to Castlebar expecting the court to sit there.
As of now it is expected that the courts in the two venues will continue to sit until at least the end of this year before being moved to alternate venues in the county. The Mayo Advertiser contacted the Court Service media relations officer, Gerry Curran enquiring when the courts were due to close, but Mr Curran was unable to confirm the exact date, replying via emial , "Exact dates for the transfer of business from these two court venues has not been decided upon yet, and thus has not been announced. It is likely the transfer will happen by the end of this year or very early 2014. We will make a public notice when dates are decided upon.”
Ballyhaunis based solicitor Evan O’Dwyer, who was very critical of the decision to close the court at the July sitting in Ballyhaunis told the Mayo Advertiser this week he and his colleagues are still none the wiser of when the courts will exactly close and move its business. “There is no information on it, we have received one email to say that the decision has been made but no exact date on when it will happen.”
The fact that no date has been set is also leading to complications for solicitors, gardai, and the judge when it comes to the scheduling of cases to be heard, he told the Advertiser. “It’s very simple, there was complete confusion in Ballyhaunis District Court last Tuesday. Dates need to be set for criminal and civil cases and neither the judge nor the practitioners were able to know what to really do because of the uncertainty. It’s the worst of both worlds really, because you don’t know when the date will be set and when to set cases for.”
The decision to close the court houses had been long rumoured but when the news came through in the July it was a bolt from the blue, with Judge Mary Devins delaying the start of the court by half-an-hour to try to find out for herself, after she had been informed of the decision on her way to court by a shopkeeper in Charlestown.