Judge axes court schedule amidst 'serious concern' over safety of Portlaoise court in Covid era

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Judge axes court schedule amidst 'serious concern' over safety of Portlaoise court in Covid era

Judge Catherine Staines

A district court judge has reduced the court's schedule of business over "serious concerns" over the safety and suitability of the venue in the Covid era. 

Judge Catherine Staines expressed her serious concern about Portlaoise court at Thursday's sitting of the district court in the town.

"I have very serious concerns, and I am very concerned for everyone - court staff, Gardaí and solicitors," she stated. 

"I have staff here presenting with conditions and they have children at home who are vulnerable. I am trying to protect everyone.

"We are all well down the pecking order when it comes to vaccines," she stated.  

"This is a small courtroom and there is no ventilation. Tullamore court is much bigger and they are able to carry on as normal.

"For the past two weeks we have had over 100 cases listed here.  

"My concern has been heightened by my awareness recently of how many Gardaí in Portlaoise are isolating because of Covid."

Judge Staines said she was currently adjourning all afternoon lists until later in the year.

She added that she would review the situation next week, and review what would happen in February.