OPW backs court move to Denny site

Simon Brouder

The Office of Public Works has given its backing to 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 town.

In the past week the Courts Service confirmed that it has received a "positive" assessment of the Denny Site's suitability for a new courthouse from the OPW.

Based on the OPW report the Courts Service now plans to hold further discussions about the Denny site with Kerry County Council.

The 19th century Court building - which is generally accepted as unfit for purpose - is due to be either refurbished, or moved to a new building on a greenfield site.

The State's favoured option seems to be a new building and various sites have been mooted, with the Denny factory site often cited as an ideal location.

The Courts Service - who acknowledge Tralee courthouse requires major refurbishments - had also previously requested a valuation of Ballymullen Barracks from the Department of Defence.

While Ballymullen had been considered it looks as though the eyes of the Courts Service and the Government are now firmly on the Denny Site.

The Courts Service has said that assessments of the existing courthouse that were carried out by the OPW showed there was "very little potential" for developing the building to provide required modern court facilities.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan has said that "Previous efforts to acquire adjacent sites on Ashe Street have not been successful as the sites could not be acquired at a price that represented value for money".

However this is strongly disputed by Kerry Law Society members and traders who say moving the courthouse would devastate the town centre.

They argue there is ample space in the existing building - including its empty open air rotunda - and nearby to allow for its redevelopment.