The OPW is assessing the site of a former bacon factory in the centre of Tralee as the location for a new courthouse, the Courts Service has confirmed.
The 2.3-acre factory site known as the Island of Geese was gifted to the people of Tralee by the Kerry Group in 2016.
It is adjacent to the town’s Garda station. The old buildings are being demolished and the site cleared.
A masterplan is being drawn up by Kerry County Council following public consultation.
Tralee courthouse, a listed building dating to 1835, has been declared no longer fit for purpose, and architects say its site is too confined and difficult to upgrade.
The possibility of a move to a large greenfield site on Department of Defence-owned army barracks at Ballymullen, outside Tralee, has been met with resistance from business people and the legal profession — many of whom are based near the current Ashe St courthouse.
Tralee courthouse holds Kerry’s jury trials, family law, and civil matters almost daily, as well as sittings of the Circuit and High Courts, and district courts of Tralee and Castleisland.
With only two courtrooms, one of which is cold and uncomfortable, and only one jury room, no press facilities, wheelchair access, or wifi, and few consultation rooms, it has been the subject of complaints from judges, prisoners, the press, and public.
The Courts Service offices themselves have moved out and are now renting nearby.
Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan was taken on a tour there in May, and he told The Kerryman newspaper that the building is clearly dilapidated and no longer fit for purpose. “I want great facilities for the people of Kerry. I want a family law suite, I want a vulnerable witness suite, I want separate entrances for juries; I want prisoners to be treated in a way that has been described as humane; and I want parking.”
A recent joint policing committee meeting in Tralee heard more criticism of the courthouse. Chief Superintendent Tom Myers said the site next to the Garda station in Tralee, the Island of Geese site, would be suitable not just for a court complex but a new Garda station too.
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