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Furious backlash halted plans to close district courts in city


Judge Rosemary Horgan

Judge Rosemary Horgan

Judge Rosemary Horgan

PLANS to close down the capital's four district courts were only abandoned after a furious backlash from the most senior levels of the judiciary, gardai and across the political divide.

Documents obtained by the Herald have revealed the level of anger and shock that the Court Service plan to save money generated among those professions.

Court buildings in Swords, Balbriggan, Tallaght and Dun Laoghaire were all due to be shut in January.

But the Herald can reveal how the President of the District Court, a judge, the assistant garda commissioner for the region, the current Ceann Comhairle and a former senior minister objected strongly.

Solicitors and barristers also expressed their outrage to the Courts Service at what was seen as "foregone conclusion" to stop using the buildings.

Judge Rosemary Horgan, president of the district court, was one of those to write in opposition to the plan. In her letter to the board of the Courts Service, the judge was also critical of how the court buildings had been maintained.

"The older courthouse buildings in Swords, Dun Laoghaire and Tallaght are located in communities that have grown into large suburban centres of population.

"They are next door or in close proximity to Garda Siochana stations. It is unfortunate that they have not been maintained to an acceptable standard for the benefit of the court users," she said.

Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett wrote to the board in strong opposition to the plans.

"The idea that a review body would recommend the closure of the only District Court in the whole administrative area of Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council is to say the least astonishing," he wrote.

Mr Barrett, who was a TD for Dun Laoghaire, added that he "would strongly recommend" against the advice to close the court in the area.

Mary Hanafin, who served as a minister in a number of portfolios, said that a District Court in Dun Laoghaire had held hearings since the foundation of the State.

Assistant Commissioner John Twomey wrote to the Courts Service to say he had put together a team to review the proposal.

It concluded that closing the courts would result in additional costs for the gardai.

For example, he said that the cost of sending a member to the CCJ and Blanchardstown, as opposed to Tallaght, would increase from €98.10 to €185.68 for the CCJ and from €98.10 to €204.53 for Blanchardstown.

And he said that the overall impact would leave fewer gardai on the beat.