The class group 3A2 in the High School visited Clonmel District Court as part of our C.S.P.E. (Civic, Social and Political Education) Action Project. This project accounts for 60% of the overall Junior Certificate result.
In C.S.P.E. there are 7 main areas known as core concepts. These core concepts can be summarised under the headings of rights and responsibilities, human dignity, development, interdependence, stewardship, democracy and law. The class group chose the concept of law because they were interested in learning about the Irish judicial system.
The group elected members of the class to different posts and committees and among these was the letter-writing committee. We wrote a letter to Tom Browne in Clonmel, requesting a tour to learn about the Irish court system. Mr. Browne was very obliging and gave up his valuable time in showing us the court.
When the class arrived at the courthouse we were greeted by Mr. Browne, Geraldine Lynch and Margaret Rossiter. Mrs. Rossiter gave us a brief history of the courthouse and explained how the building came to be in existence. The class viewed the main foyer, which has significance because the building was designed by a former apprentice of the architect Richard Cassels, who designed Leinster House.
It is for this reason that the exterior and the interior styling of the courthouse bears a resemblance to the houses of the Oireachtas. The class then continued to view the holding cells and the District courtroom itself. We learned about the physical layout of the courtroom, where the various representatives, witnesses, defendants, judge, clerk, stenographer, jury and general public sit and their roles in court.
Mr. Browne then described to the class in detail the different courts in Ireland, what they were set up for and the type of cases they may handle. He also outlined the appeal process for each. He also spoke of the administrative duties of the Irish Courts Service and how it was responsible for maintaining the buildings themselves.
To further extend our knowledge of the proceedings in the District court Ms. Lynch, Mrs. Rossiter and Mr. Browne set up a mock court wherein the class role-played various characters in the typical District courtroom scene. A trial was set up with the judge, defendants and prosecution all present, as were the witnesses and the scene was played out as if a real case.
For the C.S.P.E. Action Project there is a compulsory piece to be written on which project was completed, how it was planned and executed and a detailed description of what was learned.
To achieve maximum marks in this section the class compiled a list of 25 questions that were put to Mr. Browne, Ms. Lynch and Mrs. Rossiter by another student in the class, Aidan Murphy.
We found our visit to Clonmel Courthouse to be a most enjoyable and worthwhile experience and extend our deepest thanks to Tom Browne, Geraldine Lynch and Margaret Rossiter, who gave so freely of their time and made this visit pleasant and educational.
To further extend the class's knowledge of how law works in Ireland, they found out how the law was enforced by the Garda. The communications committee, consisting of Aidan Murphy, Sean Nagle, Patrick Morrissey and I, wrote a letter and the Liaison Officer appointed John Hennessy, a local community officer to come in and explain the typical day of a Garda, the various ranks and aims of An Garda Sochna and the formal means by which a person is arrested.
The class group learned and benefited greatly from these experiences and expresses our sincerest thanks to all involved.
- Anthony Wall