Justice Minister says the future of Tralee courthouse still uncertain


Simon Brouder

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan has said that no decision has been made on whether Tralee's historic courthouse should be refurbished or moved to another site.

The Office of Public Works recently backed controversial plans to move Tralee Courthouse from Ashe Street to a new purpose built complex on the former Denny site at the Island of Geese.

While the local legal profession and traders - especially those on Ashe Street - are vigorously opposed to any move, the Courts Service appears increasingly determined to press ahead and shift the courthouse to the other side of the town.

The issue was raised with Justice Minister Flanagan by Kerry TD Michael Healy Rae who sought an update.

Minister Flanagan said that the Courts Service is examining a number of options and is in discussion with Kerry County Council and that no decision has been made.

The Minister said that the scale of the works needed to bring the existing court up to modern standards made complicated matters.

"The Courts Service has advised that it envisages a courthouse comprising four courtrooms and related facilities to include consultation rooms; custody facilities; facilities for juries and vulnerable witnesses and legal practitioner's suites designed to meet current and future needs in Tralee," said Minister Flanagan.

"This will require a building significantly larger than the existing courthouse on Ashe Street where the scope for refurbishing and development is extremely limited due to the nature of the building and the constrained nature of the site," he said.

Minister Flanagan told Deputy Healy-Rae that attempts had been made to purchase adjacent sites on Ashe Street - so the existing building could be extended - but the prices were too high and would "not represent value for money for the taxpayer.

"A further option is to build a new modern courthouse on a greenfield/brownfield site, and I understand a number of potential sites are being considered," the Minister said.

He added that while talks are ongoing between various parties the future of the courthouse is still unknown.

"However, no decision has been made and all options are under review," he said.