Security under review at Family Courts after man armed with imitation firearm and device arrested

Security under review at Family Courts after man armed with imitation firearm and device arrested
A man is removed by Gardaí from a courthouse in Smithfield. Pic: Collins

Update: Security at the Family Law Courts in Dublin is under review after a man allegedly produced an imitation gun and suspect device during a hearing.

A man was arrested after the incident at the Phoenix House complex in the Smithfield area this morning.

A major security alert was triggered, with bomb disposal officers from the Irish Army deployed to the scene as the building was evacuated.

Gardaí helping a woman from a courthouse in Smithfield. Pic: Collins
Gardaí helping a woman from a courthouse in Smithfield. Pic: Collins

The Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team carried out a controlled explosion and removed the suspect device for further examination.

The security cordon was subsequently lifted and hearings resumed this afternoon.

Judge Susan Ryan was presiding over a family law hearing when the incident happened at about 11.30am.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said: "While thankful that nobody involved was injured, I am nonetheless conscious of the impact on the judge, court personnel and all others who were in the court at the time.

"The security of the courts and the safety of all who use the courts is a matter of the highest priority for me.

"The courts play a fundamental role in our justice system and must always be able to operate without hindrance.

"I commend the Gardai for their swift actions in response to the incident that unfolded. The matter is now the subject of a Garda investigation."

Part of the Garda cordon in Smithfield. Pic: Caroline O'Doherty.
Part of the Garda cordon in Smithfield. Pic: Caroline O'Doherty.

A spokesman for the Irish Courts Service said: "The courts service is very concerned at the nature of this incident and is thankful that all our colleagues and the public remained safe.

"This incident highlights the need to constantly keep courthouse security under review - in terms of both a Garda presence and appropriate security at each court sitting".

The spokesman noted that airport-style security scanners are due to be introduced for family law court sittings when the hearings are moved to a new complex at Hammond Lane.

"This level of security has been operational in the Four Courts and the Criminal Courts of Justice for over a decade," he added.

"Such security measures limit the opportunity for incidents such as the one this morning".

The Council of The Bar of Ireland said: "The shocking events in the Family Court in Phoenix House this morning and other recent high-profile incidents involving assaults on barristers are of utmost concern to The Bar of Ireland.

Issues of safety and security of barristers, and all those working in the courts system, are an absolute priority for the Bar and these matters have previously been raised with the courts service.

"The Bar of Ireland will continue to actively engage with all relevant parties to ensure the protection of our members and to facilitate a safe environment in which barristers can advocate on behalf of their clients."

The arrested man was taken to Bridewell Garda station, where he remained in custody this evening.

Today's incident caused travel disruption in the city, forcing the closure of a Luas stop outside the building.

Crowds of office workers and barristers dressed in court attire gathered at the security cordon as the operation continued over lunchtime.

Earlier: Council of The Bar of Ireland describe Family Law Court incident as 'shocking'

The Council of The Bar of Ireland have released a statement, describing the events at the Family Law Court as "shocking".

Gardaí earlier evacuated the courts in Dublin after reports of a man producing what turned out to be a fake gun as well as a suspect device.

Armed Gardaí rushed to the scene inside the Phoenix House court complex at around midday where a woman is said to have been threatened.

"The shocking events in the Family Court in Phoenix House this morning and other recent high profile incidents involving assaults on barristers are of utmost concern to The Bar of Ireland," said The Council of Bar of Ireland in a statement.

Issues of safety and security of barristers, and all those working in the Courts system, are an absolute priority for the Bar and these matters have previously been raised with the Courts Service.

"The Bar of Ireland will continue to actively engage with all relevant parties to ensure the protection of our members, and to facilitate a safe environment in which barristers can advocate on behalf of their clients.

Earlier: Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan has commended the gardaí for acting quickly.

He added that it is imperative that the courts remain a safe and secure place.

“While thankful that nobody involved was injured, I am nonetheless conscious of the impact on the Judge, Court personnel and all others who were in the Court at the time," Minster Flanagan said in a statement this afternoon.

"The security of the Courts and the safety of all who use the Courts is a matter of the highest priority for me.

"The Courts play a fundamental role in our justice system and must always be able to operate without hindrance.

"I commend the Gardaí for their swift actions in response to the incident that unfolded. The matter is now the subject of a Garda investigation.”

The Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team carried out a controlled explosion on a suspect device at the scene in Smithfield.

The device has now been removed from the scene for further examination. The man arrested in connection with this incident remains in Garda custody.

All court sittings have resumed.

Earlier: Gardaí have confirmed that they have arrested a man at the Family Law Courts in Smithfield, Dublin.

They received reports of a man armed with a firearm and a suspect device at around 11.30am.

The man has since been arrested and officers seized an imitation firearm. He is being held at Bridewell Garda station.

The Army bomb squad are at the scene to examine a suspect device.

The Courthouse has been evacuated and a scene is in place. Investigations are ongoing.

Caroline O'Doherty of the Irish Examiner has reported that the man entered a court where Judge Susan Ryan was sitting, opened a bag and produced what he claimed was a gun.

He is said to have confronted a woman and a barrister, opened his jacket and claimed to have a device before the courts were evacuated and he was arrested.

Earlier:

Gardaí have evacuated the Family Law Courts in Dublin after reports of a man producing a gun and a suspect device.

Armed Gardaí rushed to the scene inside the Phoenix House court complex at around midday where a woman is said to have been threatened.

RTE News has reported that the Army Bomb Disposal team have also been called as it is understood the man also had an explosive device.

It is reported that the gunman has been arrested and has been taken to Bridewell Garda Station.

A garda cordon is in place at the scene and a security check of the building is ongoing.

People waiting at the Luas stop have been asked to move away from nearby buildings.

The Luas operator says the Red Line is running only between Saggart/Tallaght and Blackhorse on instruction from the Gardaí.

There is no service between Blackhorse and the City/The Point.

Luas tickets are valid on Dublin Bus for the duration of the disruption.

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