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Thursday 8 June 2023 Dublin: 12°C
Niall Carson
# Dáil privilege
Daly accuses judge of singling her out and wasting garda time by issuing bench warrant
“A sergeant had to leave his post in Newbridge, drive in a squad car to Swords and spend the day there vacating the order at enormous expense to the State.”

CLARE DALY HAS accused a Naas District Court judge of singling her out and making ”irrational decisions” in how her case was dealt with.

The Independents4Change TD made the comments under Dáil privilege tonight.

Daly said she was summonsed to appear before Naas District Court on a driving offence. “I allegedly drove at a speed of 59 kph in a 50 km zone.”

She said she was not present in person to enter a plea when her case came up for mention, but the judge did not accept a plea entered on her behalf by a solicitor.

The reason was I had been there in the morning and had watched how this judge had dealt with cases. I witnessed cases being called for which people did not turn up on similar charges or did not have a solicitor. No bench warrants or any other proceedings were dealt with. A judgment was simply given in those cases.

Speaking in the Dáil tonight, Daly said the warrant led to a waste of Garda time.

She claimed the judge skipped to her case ahead of others, and said she was treated different to the cases she witnesses being called ahead of her.

My case was listed as No. 188 out of 188. The judge proceeded with the cases for the morning. I watched what was happening in them and then I instructed a solicitor on this minor driving matter and left the court at lunchtime. Later that day, I attended an Oireachtas committee meeting and I was not to know that the judge having reached case No. 175 … but decided to jump to the end of the list and call case No. 188.

“He called the solicitor before the court and asked him where was his client, even though I had instructed the solicitor, and what reason I had for not being there.”

‘Outrageous decisions and behaviour’ 

Speaking during a Private Members’ debate on the establishment of a judicial appointments commission, Daly questioned the judge’s actions.

“The judge could accuse me, without any recourse on my part, of disrespecting the court. By doing that and issuing a bench warrant in those circumstances when I clearly was not a risk of absconding – the case not even listed for a hearing and he dealt with other cases earlier without issuing a bench warrant against those who were not there or who did not have a solicitor – the consequence of his action was that An Garda Síochána, which was an innocent victim, was subject to massive negative publicity that it had orchestrated this.

“A sergeant had to leave his post in Newbridge, drive in a squad car to Swords and spend the day there vacating the order at enormous expense to the State.

I had to go return to Naas District Court today to listen to the same judge lecturing me about disrespecting his court without giving me an opportunity to say anything about his irrational decision.

“Our laws provide that nobody can do anything about that judge but he is causing huge problems with regard to the administration of justice given the inefficiency of the court sittings in his district. This needs to be radically reformed.”

She added that “some outrageous decisions and behaviour are taking place in our courts”.

Judges are an incredibly powerful position. I respect our court system and I respect the fact that judges have discretion but that discretion has to be exercised proportionately and rationally and when it is not, there has be some body in place to call them to account.

“Judges have been appointed to areas or even communities in which they worked as a solicitor and this has led to conflicts of interest. They presided over cases involving people they formerly represented and proceeded to hear the cases, which is completely wrong.”