Speaking after the Justice committee on Tuesday of this week Pa Daly TD, Sinn Féin spokesperson for Law Reform, welcomed the contribution from the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.
Teachta Daly said:
“When the committee was preparing our work programme for this term, I had asked that the topic of courts and courthouses be included, and following a discussion with Malcolm Noonan, Minister of State, requested a representative from his Department be invited.
“Nicola Matthews from that Department was very clear in her written submission and her contribution: No courthouse should be abandoned without an assessment of the building by a Conservation Architect Grade 1.
“Ms Matthews also made clear that courthouses such as Tralee are part of our built heritage legacy and provide an important social record. The impacts of climate change also necessitate a policy of the refurbishment of buildings over new builds.
“However, the Courts Service were unable to confirm if such an assessment has been carried out with respect to Tralee during a 2019/2020 review of all court venues.
“Where court services are being moved, in whole or in part, from an existing Courthouse, and where an expensive new building is being considered by the Department, this could be a wasteful oversight. It would also contradict the Government’s emphasis on strengthening town centres in the ‘Town Centre First’ Programme for Government.
“I am calling on the Courts Service to clarify whether they have carried out this assessment and to partner with the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage to pursue the refurbishment of the existing courthouse. This should be done before any decision is taken to remove court services from Ashe Street, which in my view would be detrimental to Tralee Town and the surrounding area.”