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Airport-style scanners to tighten family court security after incident

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Security is being tightened at a court building where a major security incident occurred last month.

Airport-style security scanning equipment has been installed at the Phoenix House courts building at Smithfield in Dublin, where family law cases are heard. It will become operational from Friday.

A man has been arrested during a major security incident at a family court building in Dublin. Officers evacuated the Phoenix House complex in the Smithfield area after receiving reports that a man armed with a gun and bomb had entered the premises.

Other security measures, which are not being publicly revealed, are also being implemented.

The building was evacuated and a major security operation took place on December 20 after a man carrying an imitation firearm and wearing a suspicious wired device disrupted a family law hearing.

Armed gardaí and a bomb disposal team were called in to deal with the incident, which was resolved peacefully.

A 45-year-old man appeared at Dublin District Court two days later charged with the false imprisonment of two women and one count of threatening to kill and cause serious harm to a woman.

A Courts Service spokesman said discussions were taking place with members of the legal community about the new security measures.

"We are consulting with the various legal community representatives about the introduction of this security protocol, which will also see other non-public measures adopted in the operation of the building," he said.

Unlike the nearby Four Courts and Criminal Courts of Justice complexes, Phoenix House has not had any airport-style security screening.

Until recently there was also no dedicated Garda presence at the building.

The lack of gardaí was an issue raised on a number of occasions in recent years by the Courts Service, members of the judiciary and lawyers.

In the aftermath of the incident, urgent talks took place between Courts Service chief executive Brendan Ryan and senior gardaí.

There have been a number of violent incidents in the courts in recent years.

In December 2015, a District Court judge was assaulted during a family law sitting.

The Bar of Ireland said barristers have also been assaulted.

Irish Independent