Ireland’s disco court is up and running in County Tipperary as solicitors and defendants swapped the spotlight for the flashing lights.
Judge Aeneas McCarthy has declared himself ‘quite happy’ to hold proceedings at O’Donovan’s Bar and Restaurant in Ballina Co. Tipperary.
The court was forced to move from its traditional home in the Clare village of Killaloe after the courthouse there fell into disrepair and the hotel that housed subsequent sittings went into liquidation.
Cases had been heard in Ennis since September before the Courts Service found the new venue, closer to Killaloe.
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The makeshift court sat for the first time on Tuesday when Judge McCarthy heard a number of cases relating to late-night disorder and drink driving.
The stage normally used by bands performing at the popular nightspot became Judge McCarthy’s podium for the day after the Courts Service struck a deal with local publican Michael O’Donovan.
The disco lights were switched off for the duration of the hearings and the shutters were down on the bar but beer taps and spirit bottles were clearly visible.
“This is a temporary measure and I found it to be satisfactory,” said Judge McCarthy after the morning session.
Bar owner O’Donovan was also happy with his venue’s first day in legal service.
“As long as there are no problems and it runs smoothly, I don’t mind,” he told the Irish Independent.
Solicitor Chris Lynch said: “Having the court in a room where there is a bar doesn’t make any difference.
“The venue is fine. It is functional. I have sat in courts in a lot worse places. This is warm and clean andhas capacity to fit the crowd.
“I have worked at a lot of court venues where function rooms and community halls have been used.
“I’m delighted the sittings are back in Killaloe as there was a major problem in people not being able to get to Ennis because there is no direct public transport link.
“Ideally, we would like the old courthouse in Killaloe restored, but this is the second-best option.”