independent

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Gardaí are 'disappointed' with closure proposal

John Manning

Published 10/06/2014 | 05:32

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SWORDS gardaí are said to be 'disappointed' at proposals from the Courts Service to close the local courthouses in Swords and Balbriggan and transfer their cases to the Criminal Courts of Justice complex in the Phoenix Park.

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A spokesperson for gardaí in Swords said the move would remove an 'important source of interaction with the community' from local gardaí.

The Swords gardaí spokesperson said: 'The courthouse in Swords provided more than just a legislative venue. It was a place where people went to have local issues dealt with.

'Not only from the criminal point of view, but for civil and family cases too, it will be a big loss to the community.'

There was an acceptance locally that both courthouses were in 'serious need of modernisation' but moving operations, lock, stock and barrel to the Phoenix Park will cause practical difficulties for local gardaí.

Obtaining search warrants, for example, could now be a much longer process for local gardaí who will have to join the queue behind gardaí stationed elsewhere in Dublin to get a warrant from the CCJ. There is also a fear that local small-time criminals will now encounter individuals further up the criminal food-chain in the CCJ and be pulled deeper into a life of crime.

Under the new proposals from the Courts Service, all criminal business from both courthouses will be moved to the Criminal Courts of Justice complex near Phoenix Park in Dublin city from next January.

All Road Traffic Act cases would be heard at Blanchardstown District Court while all other business dealt with at present in Swords and Balbriggan would be distributed among existing civil and family law courts in the city centre.

A period of consultation will now begin and the proposals will first be considered by the Buildings Committee of the Courts Service at the end of June. After that the Board of the Courts Service will make the final decision in relation to the closure of any venue.

Subject to board agreement, the service expects the new arrangements to take effect in January 2015, allowing a six month lead-in period for planning and implementation.

Fingal Independent

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