The incoming President of the District Court has pledged he will do everything in his power to restore sittings to Carndonagh Courthouse.
Judge Paul Kelly made the comment at the latest sitting of Buncrana Court, in Letterkenny, where glowing tributes were paid to him after it was confirmed he was being appointed President.
Having practised as a solicitor for 30 years, the Dublin native took up the role of District Court Judge for Donegal in April 2011.
At Buncrana Court, which is temporarily being held in Letterkenny Courthouse due to Covid restrictions, Inishowen solicitor, Mr Ciaran MacLoclainn, led the tributes on behalf of his colleagues.
He said he now had a ‘friend in a high place’ and asked Judge Kelly to ensure Buncrana court returns to its rightful home and that Carn Courthouse reopens as soon as possible.
The latter was closed in April 2019 for ‘four months’. However, it is still shut and there are fears that it may never reopen.
“Now that we will have a friend in a high place, we will expect big things in that Buncrana court returns to Buncrana and that Carn Courthouse will reopen again,” Mr MacLochlainn said.
“We live in hope, and expectation, that you promote that for us.”
In an interview last year, Judge Kelly said he felt strongly that small rural courthouses like Carn, Buncrana and Glenties and Dungloe should remain open. He reiterated that position when responding to Mr MacLochlainn’s plea.
“I am a great advocate for the sitting of district courts in local venues,” Judge Kelly said.
“You will have no greater advocate than myself for this – there will be no want of trying on my part.”
Mr MacLochlainn said, on behalf of the Inishowen solicitors, he was delighted with Judge Kelly’s appointment, but that this was also ‘tinged with regret.’
“You’ve been here for the past ten years, and there hasn’t been a cross word between us. None of us (solicitors) ever left this court feeling hard done by,” he recalled.
The Buncrana solicitor added that the judge was noted for his ‘fairness and cop-on’ and that he was a great promoter of the Pro-Social Driving Scheme and the Irish language.
“You were probably the only judge in the country who could conduct a case in Irish. Your new position is a very important one, but we are all genuinely sorry that you will be going.”
Garda Inspector, Shaun Grant, said he wanted to be associated with Mr McLochlainn’s comments and wished the judge well on behalf of the absent Chief Superintendent, Terry McGinn.
Judge Kelly said he was ‘overwhelmed’ to hear the tributes paid to him, adding it was both a ‘pleasure and a joy’ to have been here for the past decade.
He said he was looking forward to the new challenge but would be sad to leave the county.
“Hopefully I will be back in Donegal soon, on either court or personal business,” he concluded.Tags: