The central criminal court: the Limerick experience

AuthorPaul Carney
PositionJudge of the High Court. Paper delivered on 20th October, 2005 to the Faculty of Law, University College Cork
The paper which I am giving this evening was written to be
delivered at a conference in King’s Inns a couple of years ago. The
circumstances which gave rise to its not being given on that occasion
are detailed in an article in the current issue of the Judicial Studies
Institute Journal.1
Re-reading the paper this morning for the first time in a
couple of years, I cannot for the life of me understand what all the
fuss was about.
Dean Fennell, ladies and gentlemen, I give you the banned
At this time last year, there was such a backlog of murder
cases from Limerick awaiting trial in the Central Criminal Court that
the court would never be without a Limerick murder trial at hearing.
Amurder trial may involve over one hundred witnesses, many of the
members of An Garda Síochána, proving preservation of a scene,
service of tea and biscuits pursuant to the Treatment of Persons in
Custody Regulations and negativing ill-treatment of prisoners in
In the normal run of cases, these witnesses will be dispensed
with by agreement between the parties. We were told, however, at
2005] The Central Criminal Court:
The Limerick Experience
*Judge of the High Court. Paper delivered on 20th October,2005 to the Faculty of Law,
University College Cork.
1Editorial Board:The article to which His Hon. Mr. Justice Carney refers is “Extra-Judicial
Comment by Judges” by Rónán Kennedy (2005) 5(1) Judicial Studies Institute Journal.Mr.
Kennedy, at p. 202, outlines the circumstances involved:
In early 2004, Mr. Justice Carney was due to speak at a conference in Dublin on the criminal
justice system. His paper commented on the sittings of the Central Criminal Courtin Limerick
in late 2003. The Chief Justice, who was chairing the conference, was not prepared to attend
the conference if the paper was delivered as drafted. According to the Irish Times,Mr. Justice
Keane objected to three elements in the paper: the fact that it referred to matters in the recent
past or still current; the fact that these matters may present themselves before the courts in
another form; and his concern that judges should not talk in public about cases they had
presided over.
Mr. Justice Carney did not speak at the conference.

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