Judges oppose new courthouse plan

Circuit Court judges in Cork are opposed to plans to develop a new courthouse beside the existing district court for the centralising of criminal cases.

The plans were unveiled to the judiciary based at the Washington St circuit courthouse last week, and one source described that meeting as turbulent.

It has emerged that the judiciary argued that the development would be a waste of money and expressed serious concerns about its necessity.

The position taken by the judiciary at the meeting was that the existing facilities were adequate and that there was no need for it.

One of the arguments made was that the development could lead to inefficiencies. Under current arrangements, the three full-time circuit court judges and visiting judges are presently able to support each other by dividing work between them.

For instance, if one judge finished his list early it was open to him to take work from a judge with a busier list.

The judges submitted that this would not be possible with judges and witnesses divided between Anglesea St and Washington St under the new plan.

The argument was made by the judiciary that the Court Service was taking the relatively recent development of a designated criminal courts complex in Dublin and applying the model to Cork, where present facilities were described as adequate.

A spokesman for the Court Service declined to comment on the judges’ claims.

However, he confirmed that “discussions were ongoing with the judiciary about the development of the plans”.

The Court Service had earlier said it wanted to develop the courthouse, in the car park to the rear of the existing Anglesea St building, through a public-private partnership.

The Court Service is also preparing to enter into consultations with other court users such as the gardaí, the probation service, the prison service, Victim Support, barristers, and solicitors.

The Court Service maintains that the current facilities in Anglesea St courthouse are insufficient.

There are four courts in that building.

The proposal is to build six courtrooms in the new facility and to refurbish the existing courthouse as offices and for other support functions for the new court.

The project is one of seven new courts around the country which the Government wants to build as part of a stimulus package.

It is hoped that building will get underway in 2015, generating 150 construction jobs, and that the court will open the following year.


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