A CAMPAIGN to encourage greater use of Fermoy courthouse could result in a welcome spin-off for the local business community.
That's the view of Cllr Noel McCarthy (Lab) who has this week called on Justice Minister Alan Shatter to pave the way for the facility to be used on a more frequent basis.
Speaking at this week's meeting of Cork County Council's northern division, Cllr McCarthy pointed out that the building, which was refurbished in 2008 at a cost of €7.2 million, was lying idle for as many as 300 days each year.
"In my capacity as chair of the Fermoy Business Action Group I have undertake research into the use, or more accurately, the non-use of the building," said Cllr McCarthy.
He pointed out that between district and circuit court sittings the building is only used for a maximum of 65 days each year. In addition, the adjoining town council chamber may also be left idle when the local authority is disbanded next year.
"In my view this represents bad value for money for the taxpayer, particularly when you consider that other state bodies such as An Bord Pleanala and the Department of Social Welfare pay to hire out rooms in local hotels for tribunal hearings and appeals," said Cllr McCarthy.
"This does not make sense when you have a fine building that cost a lot of money to refurbish lying idle for up to 300 days per year," he added.
He called for the support of his council colleagues in writing to Minister Shatter asking him to explore how the building could be put to greater use.
"It strikes me that, were state bodies to work together, more uses could quite easily be found for the building , which would in turn represent better value for money to the taxpayer," said Cllr McCarthy.
"In addition, increased use of the building would generate a welcome spin off for local businesses that do experience greater footfall through their doors on the days that the building is being used," he added.
Cllr McCarthy's call received the full backing of his council colleagues, with Cllr Gerard Murphy (FG) suggesting that the council also raise the issue with the Courts Service and the Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin.