MAYOR of Kilkenny, Seán Ó hArgáin has called on senior garda management and the Department of Justice to immediately appoint a replacement garda superintendent and a permanent district judge for the area, describing the failure to fill both posts as ‘unprecedented’ and of major cause for concern in terms of the administration of justice in the city and county.
Court staff and gardai are facing challenges in dealing with the administration of justice with the lack of a permanent superintendent and district court judge. Superintendent Mick Nevin retired last Feburary and to date, no one has been appointed to replace him, leaving Kilkenny Garda Station without a permanent head honcho. A serving garda inspector is ‘acting superintendent’ while gardai wait to see if an appointment will be made. A garda spokesman would not give reasons for the delay or indicate if an appointment is imminent.
“The allocation of superintendents is under constant review by senior Garda management, and is not something we are in a position to discuss,” he said.
Meanwhile, the district courtts service is also stretched to it’s limits. Earlier this year, staff felt forced to reduce public opening hours in order to deal with their increased workload. There has been no permanent judge appointed to the district for over 12 months since Judge William Harnett retired last May and to date numerous district court judges have sat at Kilkenny courthouse.
Newly-appointed Mayor Ó hArgáin is calling for immediate action adding that he is extremely concerned that two of the city’s most powerful and important posts are vacant.
“The failure to appoint a replacement garda superintendent to replace the retired Mick Nevin is highly unusual, particularly in the light of similar recent appointments in Tullamore and Birr,” he said.
“ The role of the superintendent is crucial to the strategic management of the Garda Síochána in this area, particularly in the light of serious crime concerns raised in the recent past by Chief Superintendent Mick McGarry.
“In terms of the co-operation between elected representatives and the force, the Superintendent has always had a crucial role, being the main link person for instance with the local policing committees at city and county level. I would call on the Garda Commissioner to appoint a replacement at this rank as soon as is possible,” he said.
“Likewise the failure to appoint a permanent district judge is leading to concerns among local legal practitioners about the consistency of knowledge in the local courts service. Constant changing of temporary judges means that the local knowledge acquired by a judge simply doesn’t develop as it should. This type of knowledge leads to a more informed administration of justice in my view and I hope that this glaring absence is also filled in the near future,” he added.
A Department of Justice spokesman confirmed that the position in relation to the permanent appointment of a judge to Kilkenny is under consideration but gave no indication if and when a permanent appointment would be made.