DISTRICT Court business in Swords has been thrown into chaos by the enforced closure of the 19th century courthouse on North Street after its ceiling collapsed last week. Business was due to resume next Monday at Swords Court after the summer break .
But the building will now have to remain closed for safety reasons while the Office of Public Works assess the damage and carry out repairs. In the meantime, all the business of the court is to transfer to Blanchardstown which is likely to cause chaos and a huge increase in 'no-shows' from defendants relying on limited public transport links between Swords and Dublin 15.
The collapsed ceiling may have gone unnoticed until next Monday when court was due to resume business but for Swords Youth Service. The local youth group were due to use the courthouse last Tuesday, August 22, for a mock trial but when the court was opened for them, the extensive damage to the ceiling was discovered. The move to Blanchardstown will also prove a logistical nightmare not only for the court service but also for Swords Gardaí who will have to traffic personnel and files back and forth to the Dublin 15 court. It is understood that the OPW have only undertaken a preliminary examination of the problem and there is no indication as yet as to the extent of the damage or the likely length and cost of the repair works.
There have been talks of building a new courthouse in Swords for years but with the recession, those plans have been put firmly on the back-burner. For more than a decade, users of the out-dated facilities at Swords Court have complained about conditions in the busy courtroom. Well known Swords solicitor, John Hennessy has described the building as 'Mickey Mouse' and said it ' looks like a kip'. Back in 2002, Judge Sean MacBride described conditions at the courthouse in Swords as 'Dickensian'.