Courthouse authorities may be compelled to ensure full access

A disability campaigner claims that a little known legal instrument could be used to ensure full access to Tralee courthouse in Kerry.

The Kerry Disability Network has raised the issue of a lack of wheelchair access to the courthouse over a number of years, while the Courts Service has signalled its intention to move the court to a greenfield site elsewhere in the town.

Martin Conway of the Kerry Disability Network said any possible move should not affect the need for wheelchair accessibility at the existing courthouse, referencing cases in recent years in which people with a disability have had to be lifted into the building.

Mr Conway said that an “order of mandamus” could be obtained which would compel court authorities to provide wheelchair access. He cited previous instances in which it was applied for the same purpose — for a Waterford courthouse in 1984, and for a courthouse in Virginia in Cavan in the same year.

“If they build a new courthouse and the old one is turned into an art gallery or a museum, we still have the same situation of no access,” said Mr Conway.

“We are going on about it for quite a long time.”

Solicitor John Galvin, chairman of the Kerry Law Society, said he was not aware of previous uses of an order of mandamus but said that as far as he was aware, there were no plans or drawings for the proposed new courthouse, which he and others are opposed to.

”We should try and hold all the facilities, as much as possible, in town,” he said.

Mr Galvin said there were options regarding a possible refurbishment of the existing building on Ashe St “with a little ingenuity”, and said of the accessibility issue: “Common sense dictates that it should be wheelchair accessible.”

The Courts Service said it would be in a position to provide an update next week.


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