Judge Hears Cases in a Pub

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By Alex Aldridge on

A pub is being used as a makeshift courtroom due to a shortage of official court buildings in Ireland.

Defendants and lawyers attended O’Donovan’s Bar and Restaurant (pictured) in Ballina, County Tipperary, yesterday after the Irish Courts Service came to an arrangement with publican Michael O’Donovan.

Matters, including disorder and alcohol-related offences, were presided over by Judge Aeneas McCarthy, sitting on a stage usually reserved for bands that is situated metres from the pub’s bar. The disco lights were turned off for the occasion.

Solicitor Chris Lynch was more than happy with the arrangement.

“The venue is fine,” he said. “It is functional. I have sat in courts in a lot worse places. This is warm and clean and has capacity to fit the crowd.”

He added: “I have worked at a lot of court venues where function rooms and community halls have been used down the years.”

Of course, this isn’t the first time a judge has held court in a pub. In 1990 the flamboyant Circuit Judge James Pickles called an impromptu press conference in the pub adjoining his court in Halifax to describe the then lord chief justice as “an ancient dinosaur living in the wrong age”.

Pickles had jailed a young woman and her baby after she had been convicted of theft, justifying his decision – and causing outrage among the assembled reporters – by claiming that women might think they could avoid prison by becoming pregnant.