I propose to take Questions Nos. 38 and 97 together.
As the Deputy will be aware I have previously announced, together with the then Minister of State responsible for the Office of Public Works, the intention to provide a dedicated facility including new family courts at the Hammond Lane site. The project is to be delivered by way of Public Private Partnership in accordance with the Government’s Infrastructure and Capital Investment Programme 2016 - 2021 and it is anticipated that the project could be completed by 2020.
I am informed that the rezoning of a part of the Hammond Lane site as a park, has been proposed in an amendment which has been tabled by some members of Dublin City Council to the draft Dublin City Development Plan 2016 - 2022. The Courts Service has informed me that this would have a serious and detrimental effect on the proposed development of that site.
Currently family law cases and cases involving children are dealt with at four separate locations in central Dublin and the facilities currently available at these locations are considered inadequate. The proposal to develop a dedicated Family Law and Children’s Court complex on the Hammond Lane site provides a unique opportunity to address the inadequacy of the current facilities by providing a purpose built courthouse specifically designed to cater for the particular needs of those involved in family or child care cases.
However, if the proposed rezoning is adopted the Courts Service advise that this would impact negatively on plans to develop the Family Law and Children's Court complex. The site is quite small (approximately 0.45 hectares) and a major challenge in the design work undertaken to date has been to fit all the necessary courtrooms, support services and court offices into the available space. A reduction in the size of the site would severely restrict the size of the complex and could have the potential to delay the project and also to jeopardise its viability.
Since becoming aware of the proposed amendment the Courts Service has written to Dublin City Council expressing its concerns and has made a submission requesting that the rezoning proposal be withdrawn. The Courts Service understands that similar submissions have also been made by other organisations working in the area of family and child care law. I am informed that all submissions will be considered by City Councillors at a special meeting scheduled for 23 September next following which the Courts Service will consider the matter further and I can assure the Deputy that it is my intention to continue to take a very strong interest, from the Government's perspective, in the delivery of this critical enhancement of our family court facilities in Dublin.