Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Questions (574)

Charles Flanagan

Question:

574. Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the total amount of money expended in the past ten years in respect of renovation and refurbishment works at the Court House, Edenderry, Co. Offaly; and if having regard to such sum and to the large catchment area currently served by Edenderry District Court that every consideration will be given to its continued operation. [8635/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy may be aware, under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service. The Act provides that the Service is independent in the performance of its functions, including the maintenance and provision of courthouse facilities.

In order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and have been informed that the Courts Service has not expended any funds in relation to the refurbishment and renovation of the courthouse in Edenderry in the past ten years. However, a total of €430,000 was spent on completing a capital project in Edenderry Courthouse in 1998.

The Courts Service has indicated that it has been reviewing all aspects of its organisational and operational structures throughout the country with the specific objective of ensuring that the Service can continue to maintain the delivery of front line court services and an appropriate level of service to court users. I understand that no court venue has been singled out for or indeed exempted from the review and that Edenderry courthouse has been identified as a venue to be considered for closure subject to a detailed assessment and the preparation of a business case.

In this context the Courts Service has established a general framework within which such venues are being assessed taking into account a range of criteria such as caseload, proximity to an alternative venue, physical condition of the building, availability of cells etc. The likely impact on other Justice agencies, such as An Garda Síochána and the Irish Prison Service, is also taken into account. The review identified a range of venues nationwide which, based on the criteria applied, could be considered for closure subject to a detailed assessment and the preparation of a business case in respect of each identified venue which has now commenced.

However, the Courts Service has assured me that no decision in relation to the future of Edenderry Courthouse will be taken without prior consultation with local interested parties and court users. This consultation has commenced and the views received will be taken into account in the decision making process which will be a matter for the Courts Service Board.