Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Questions (555)

Brendan Smith


555. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will confirm that there will be no change to the status of Clones District Court, County Monaghan, as the court building has modern facilities and the court services a large part of County Monaghan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31582/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I wish to inform the Deputy that under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service which is independent in exercising its functions, which includes the provision of accommodation for court sittings.

However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and have been informed that the Courts Service 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.

In the context of that review, Clones courthouse was identified as a venue that should be considered for closure subject to a detailed assessment and the preparation of a business case. Through this process the 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.

A consultation process in relation to the future of Clones courthouse, which included consultation with the judiciary, the Legal Aid Board, the Monaghan Solicitors Bar Association, An Garda Síochána, the Irish Prison Service, the Probation Service and Clones Town Council was completed. The Minister has been informed that following the consultation process the Building Committee of the Courts Service Board decided to recommend closure of Clones Court to the Board. As part of the consultation process all those who had been consulted previously were informed of the recommendation of the Building Committee and were invited to make further submissions which would be placed before the Board for consideration. In addition, a senior official from the Courts Service met a delegation from Clones Town Council on 28 June 2013. I am informed that additional submissions have been received from local interests and these together with all previous submissions will be taken into account in the decision making process in which, as the Deputy is aware, I have no role as it is a matter for the Courts Service Board under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998.

I am informed that the matter of Clones Court was due to be considered at a meeting of the Board which was to be held yesterday and in that context I have asked the Courts Service to advise the Deputy of the outcome as soon as possible.