Trials at the Central Criminal Court are being given commencement dates over two years away, as the courts battle to deal with the backlog of cases created by measures to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Before setting a date in 2023 for attempted murder accused Inita Romanovska this morning, Mr Justice Michael White also said that jury trials, which have been postponed since the New Year, will not recommence until the end of March at the earliest.
He said a meeting will be held on 15 March to determine when trials can begin again and a jury panel is scheduled to be available on 29 March. However, he added that if the courts decide that it is not safe to begin jury trials in March, no trials are likely to begin until 12 April.
At a hearing to fix dates for Central Criminal Court trials last Monday, four other trials were given commencement dates in 2023, while one murder accused whose trial was listed to begin in November last year was granted the "highest priority" after they made a third appearance on the list.
All cases that were adjourned over the months of January and February have been put into a "special list of fixed dates", where they will be assigned new dates on 9 June and 10 June next.
The trial of Ms Romanovska (34), who is charged with trying to murder a man she allegedly met on Tinder, was put back to 6 March, 2023. Ms Romanovska, with an address at Cahercalla, Kilrush Road, Ennis, Co Clare, is charged with attempted murder during an incident at an apartment complex at Henry Street, Limerick on 11 March 2020.
At the Special Criminal Court, the trial of four men accused of abducting and assaulting Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) director Kevin Lunney was adjourned today until the end of May, when it is anticipated the process of vaccination for Covid-19 will be "well underway".
Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding at the three-judge court, this morning said that it had been decided by the president of the High Court Ms Justice Mary Irvine that trials involving single defendants will resume in the Special Criminal Court on 1 March.
However, the judge said that there were five parties including the prosecution in Mr Lunney's trial, which the public health situation did not currently allow for, so the case could not proceed next week as scheduled.
Mr Justice Hunt said it was best to run the 12-week trial when the process of vaccination was "well underway" during the summer and "the current scourge was at its lowest ebb".
At this morning's brief hearing, Mr Justice Hunt listed the trial to begin on 31 May saying: "It will proceed to finish and if that includes going into August so be it. It will finish when it finishes".
The case had originally been fixed for trial on 11 January at the Special Criminal Court.
However on 5 January, Mr Justice Hunt said that "following meetings at a higher level" concerning the pandemic, the trial would not be able to start before 1 March and that date was "subject to developments".
Mr Justice Hunt, sitting with Judge Gerard Griffin and Judge Flann Brennan, today vacated the trial date of 1 March and fixed 31 May for the case of the four accused men to commence.
Luke O'Reilly (66), from Mullahoran Lower, Kilcogy, Co Cavan; Darren Redmond (25), from Caledon Road, East Wall, Dublin 3; and Alan O'Brien (38) of Shelmalier Road, East Wall, Dublin 1, are all charged with false imprisonment and assault causing serious harm to Mr Lunney (50) at Drumbrade, Ballinagh, Co Cavan on September 17, 2019. Another male, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is also charged with the same offences at the same date and location.
Father-of-six Mr Lunney (50), had his leg broken, was doused in bleach and had the letters QIH carved into his chest before he was dumped on a roadside in Co Cavan.