‘End Dickensian’ court conditions’ in Kerry say women’s organisations

Women’s organisations in Kerry are calling for an end to the “Dickensian” conditions having to be endured in the county’s courthouses — particularly by victims of crime or those involved in family law issues.

Earlier this week, district court Judge James O’Connor, at the first sitting in Tralee in 2016, singled out the “noise and filth” of Tralee Courthouse on district court days and has said he finds it the most awkward court in Kerry and Cork.

Kerry’s main courthouse, which was built in 1835, is one of the few courthouses in the country not to have been improved in the past decade.

There is no wheelchair access; no family law facilities; no press facilities; a limited number of consultation rooms; and office staff have had to move to rented offices because of health and safety and other issues.

Yesterday Anna Maria Foley, who directs the Adapt Women’s Refuge Centre in Tralee, said the courthouses in Kerry were built at a time before family law even came into existence.

Women involved in family law issues have to wait around for hours in poor and inappropriate conditions which are bordering on the “Dickensian”, she said.

Other groups have also called for facilities to be properly upgraded: Vera O’Leary, of the Kerry Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Centre, and Mairead Fernane, of the Federation for Victim Assistance, have each slammed the lack of facilities for victims of crime.

They have called for money given to the court poor box to be diverted to improve facilities.

Tralee was not among the seven courthouses to be rebuilt or refurbished in announcements in 2015 and there are no immediate plans for it.

Meanwhile, Cllr Norma Foley (FF), who has been approached to stand for Renua in the upcoming general election, has called on the three separate authorities involved in the running and maintenance and policing of courthouses — the gardaí, Kerry County Council, and the Courts Service — to get together and resolve to improve Tralee Courthouse.


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