A former Sinn Féin councillor is due to give evidence against Gerard Hutch, the man known as The Monk, in his trial for murder next Monday.

Mr Hutch, aged 59, from the Paddocks in Clontarf in Dublin has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Kinahan gangster David Byrne, who was shot dead at the Regency Hotel in February 2016.

A charge of murder against his former co-accused Jonathan Dowdall was dropped and he is now serving a four-year sentence for helping a gang commit the murder.

The court was told today that Dowdall has not yet been admitted into the Witness Protection Programme but that Gerard Hutch was anxious that his trial should proceed.

Senior Counsel Brendan Grehan said Mr Hutch was "not at all convinced about the timetable" for Dowdall's acceptance into the programme will be completed by the middle of next month.

He also asked that the court advise Dowdall before he gives his evidence that his admittance to the Witness Protection Programme "is separate and distinct and not tied in any way to the evidence he gives in this trial".

Mr Gillane said the two were "utterly unconnected" and he was happy to do that but Mr Grehan said Mr Hutch wanted that to come "from the court, not necessarily from Mr Gillane".

However, Ms Justice Tara Burns said the three judges were "not anxious to get involved in directing" Jonathan Dowdall "what may or may not be the consequences of him giving evidence".

"We don't want to advise him about matters we have no evidence of," she said.

The presiding judge suggested that "rather than the court make assumptions", evidence could be called from "an appropriate person from Witness Protection Programme" in the presence of Jonathan Dowdall.

Mr Hutch's defence counsel could also cross examine that person if necessary, she said.

A detective superintendent from the Witness Protection Programme is to give evidence on Monday which is then expected to be followed by Jonathan Dowdall's testimony.

Earlier, the court was told that Dowdall's assessment for entry to the Witness Protection Programme is ongoing and is not expected to be concluded until the end of January next year.

Senior Counsel Sean Gillane told the three judges that the current uncertainty does not arise from Dowdall or from the internal administration of the programme.

He said it now requires reports from external agencies, which are due to be completed by the end of this month, before the case goes to a review group which decides whether he is to be admitted, rejected or it requires further information.

Mr Gillane told the three judges that all the relevant material that the external agencies need to report has been supplied and the timescale is not within the control of the administrators of the Witness Protection Programme.

"Mr Dowdall is a sentenced person in a prison in the State," Mr Gillane said, "it is not a difficulty created by him. I'm sorry I can't give you a certain date."

The prosecution counsel also told the court that it takes an average time of about six months to put a witness into the protection programme but Ms Justice Tara Burns rejected that and said she had prosecuted similar cases where acceptance took far less time.

Mr Gillane proposed that Dowdall's evidence be heard next week.

"I know there is a view that this decision (about entry into the Witness Protection Programme) should be made before evidence is heard, I submit its not necessary," Mr Gillane said.

Defence counsel Brendan Grehan said Gerard Hutch's position was that he wanted this trial to proceed, "he wanted this to happen, the spectre of Jonathan Dowdall giving evidence has hung over this trial".