Denny site for courts?

Simon Brouder

The Courts Service is understood to be strongly considering moving Tralee Courthouse from its existing site on Ashe Street to the site of the former Denny factory at the Island of Geese in the town.

The Courts Service - which acknowledges that Tralee courthouse requires major refurbishment - had been considering moving the court to a purpose built complex at the Ballymullen Barracks.

This plan - which The Kerryman understands was opposed by the army - now appears to have been abandoned and the recently cleared Denny site has become the State's favoured option.

The need for a new courthouse building is strongly contested by Kerry Law Society members who argue there is ample space in the existing building - including its empty open-air rotunda - and nearby to allow for its redevelopment.

Last month Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan visited the courthouse, which he said was 'dilapidated' and 'not fit for purpose'.

However, Minister Flanagan said that it would be difficult to accommodate the required 'state of the art' facilities needed at Tralee Courthouse in its current location.

Last week a source close to the Minister, who is familiar and well briefed on the issue, said that the Denny Site - adjacent to Tralee Garda Station - is now the favoured option for a new courthouse.

Cllr Jim Finucane said any move to keep the courthouse in the town centre would be welcome and locating it close to the Garda station would appear to be a logical move.

Cllr Finucane said the move would also allow for the redevelopment of the existing courthouse. He has added that the Denny site is only one of several options that are being considered.

"If it were to happen it would throw up an opportunity for the council and the OPW to do something with the existing building, which could perhaps be used for educational purposes or maybe as an art centre," said Cllr Finucane.

Although the proposal would see the courthouse remain in the town centre the idea has met with a mixed reaction.

Numerous Tralee business owners who spoke to The Kerryman say they remain completely opposed to any plans to move the courthouse.

A number of them also criticised the proposal due to the fact that the Denny site was donated to the people of Tralee by Kerry Group to be used as a public amenity, something they feel a new courthouse does not represent.

Independent Tralee Councillor Sam Locke has said he will stridently oppose any attempt to build a new courthouse at the Denny site. Cllr Locke said that the wishes of the people - who were consulted extensively on the Denny site's future use - should be respected by the Government.