An initiative which saw motorists speeding outside a primary school in Co Longford today given the option of avoiding a fine and penalty points and instead facing a "Kids' Court" has been hailed a huge success.

Longford is the first county where the educational project has been rolled and it is hoped the move will change drivers' behaviour around speeding.

The "Kids' Court" was set up at Stonepark National School outside of Longford Town for around an hour this morning.

A total of 220 pupils attend the school which is located on a very busy road, a lot of traffic use the road if travelling to and from Athlone.

In some of the cases, drivers who were caught speeding in excess of the 50kmp/h zone were given two options, accept a fine and penalty points or face the Kids' Court.

This happened in cases where drivers were marginally over the speed limit.

Where a driver was significantly over the limit there was no option but to accept the fine and penalty points on their driving licences.

Some of the offenders chose to attend the Kids' Court where they got a lesson from the young judges on the dangers of speeding and they also questioned about their behaviour and road safety knowledge.

Others opted to take the fine and penalty points.

During the speed checkpoint, four drivers opted to face the Kids' Court.

During the special court sitting, children asked the offenders some hard-hitting questions including asking them whether they realised their driving could have killed a young pupil.

The idea of the Kids' Court started in England in 2016 and has been rolled out in Northern Ireland but Longford is the first county in the Republic to see the project rolled out.

Gardaí say it is a simple but effective idea. The project is part of a pilot scheme, the Community Safety Partnership, being run by the Department of Justice.

Longford is one of three areas in the country where the partnership is being piloted in.

The aim is to encourage community participation and address anti-social behaviour and criminality in an area.

Speaking ahead of the speed check, Garda Superintendent Séamus Boyle said discretion would only be used in cases where drivers are marginally over the speed limit.

"It's a new initiative and to say we're excited is an understatement.

"Hopefully it will go a step towards changing the culture of speeding on our roads, especially outside of schools.

"Our discretion will only be used on the lower end of the scale in relation to speeding.

"Enforcement is important but equally as important in the education piece and we would hope that the children will bring that message home to their parents and their siblings."

Principal of the school Micheál O'Sullivan said the initiative was "impactful and powerful" and had reinforced the lessons the children have learned about care on the roads.

He said: "I think the strength of this morning was that people gave their consent to come before the kids and then to hear the kids' message.

"It was very impactful and powerful. They have taught some people a lesson today and you could see the humility with which the people took their punishment if you like, which was a caution at the end of the day."

"It's a powerful thing - the voice of children and I think that came across very much in the court cases if you like."

For the children or 'judges', today was a positive experience and gave them an insight into the importance of road safety.

"It just gets people to slow down and stop speeding" said 6th class student Harry Campbell after today's Kids' Court.

"I think a few of them were very surprised they had to come into the school," he added.

"We got to learn more about road safety as well as seeing the stuff happen in real life" said Leon Delanoy, another student who acted as judge today.

Pupil Emily Flanagan said it was a "good experience" which will help prevent speeding.

"I think the people that came before us didn't know they were speeding and now they know the consequences could lead to a child being killed on the road," she said.