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Tipperary Worst In Ireland For ‘Jury Duty’ Attendance

“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgement ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?”

Gospel of St. Matthew Ch. 7: V. 1-3 (King James Version)

It is highly unlikely that due to religious staunchness, over 12,000 people failed to appear for ‘Jury Duty’ in Ireland this year, however not so much as one person has been fined in respect of this breach of municipal duty in the past three years, under the 2008 updated rules and regulations.

Figures provided to the Irish Sun newspaper under the Freedom of Information Act, found that of some 120,010 people called for jury duty in 2017, over 10 %, or some 12,214 persons failed to make an appearance. This is despite the fact that Government strengthened the Juries Act of 1976, in 2008, by increasing the fine for those failing to attend on such duties to €500. (The full text of these offences are set down in Part V of the Juries Act, 1976 as amended by Part 6 Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2008.)

Some 62% of persons called to attend on Jury Duty in 2017 here in the Premier County (Tipperary) failed to turn up; representing more than three times the rate for any other county in Ireland.

Limerick came in second, after Co. Tipperary, with 18%, followed closely by Co. Louth in third place with 16%.  It was Co. Sligo who showed up best with an attendance record where just 3.3% of individuals summoned failing to show.

So What is the Reason for this Neglect of Duty?

Firstly, many of those called come under the heading of “Those who are excused as of right”, from Jury Service; e.g. Persons aged 65 and over. Those who provide an important community service including practising doctors, nurses, midwives, dentists, vets and chemists. If you are self-employed and your attendance at jury service can mean you cannot earn a living, you may qualify for excusal from Jury Service, at the discretion of the County Registrar.

Secondly, in many cases people have to travel, and if, for example, residents of Thurles are called to attend at Nenagh Courthouse it is an all round 77km (or 49 mile) journey, making it difficult for people who don’t have secondary transportation or indeed any transportation whatsoever.

Thirdly, since the Department of Transport have greatly curtailed rural bus services, such depleted services do not take into account the opening hours of Courts throughout Tipperary for those without personal transport.

Fourthly, Unlike England, who even provide 9.6pence (Sterling) per mile to those who use a bicycle to attend court; Ireland on the other hand grant no payment whatsoever for Jury Service and travelling expenses are not permitted.
In Ireland, the only reward is that if you are serving as a Juror, lunch will be provided on any day that a trial is being heard. If you are in employment, Section 29 of the Juries Act, 1976, places a duty on all employers to allow you attend for Jury Service. The law also states that the time spent on Jury Service is to be treated as if the employee were actually employed. In other words, if you are in employment and are attending for jury service, you are entitled to be paid while you are away from work.
Also there should be no loss of any other employment rights, while you serve on a Jury, while the County Registrar is required to provide a certificate of attendance on request for employers who may seek confirmation through their employee.

As one resident stated to me today, quote “Why would I give the state €10.00 worth of petrol, plus the wear & tear on my car on potholed roads, to attend Jury Service; first to end up not being chosen, and secondly, if chosen, to watch as hardened criminals found guilty, receive light sentences from our justice system. Sure the State can’t afford to grant truly deserved jail sentences any more, so repeat offenders are permitted to roam free”.

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