As the Deputy is aware, following the publication by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform of the Estimates for Public Services on 9 October 2018, the capital allocation for 2019 for the Courts Service was confirmed at €51.517 million. It comprises €8.92 million for maintenance and development of new and existing Information Communication Technology (ICT) systems, €4.88 million for courthouse capital works and €37.717 million for unitary charge payments in relation to the Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin and a number of regional courthouses provided under Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangements.
As the Deputy will also be aware, 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.
However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the Courts Service has informed me that €6.1 million of the €8.92 million ICT allocation for 2019 is contractually committed and this includes managed services, software licences, hardware/software support, database/network administration as well as Lotus Notes support. The balance allows for a small number of system upgrades and other ICT projects.
A breakdown of the ICT allocation for 2019 is as follows:
Hardware and Software Upgrades
New e-Filing Systems (Supreme Court and Legal Cost Adjudicator)
Justice Hub Projects
The Courts Service has also provided a list of ICT projects due to be completed in 2019 as set out below:
- Firewall Replacement;
- Legal Cost Adjudicator;
- e-Filing Supreme Court;
- Courts Service Website;
- Supreme Court Website;
- Agresso Upgrade.
The Courts Service has advised that the allocation of €4.88 million for courthouse capital works will allow for ongoing preparatory work on a dedicated Dublin Family Court complex on Hammond Lane; possible further site acquisitions as a prerequisite step to enable future development of courthouses in a small number of County towns and a condition assessment survey of court buildings.
A breakdown of the Courthouse Capital allocation is as follows:
- €1.38 million for repayment of Cork Loan (principal only element) - 2019 repayments to Cork City Council in respect of the refurbishment it carried out to Washington Street Courthouse in 2003;
- €0.98 million for capital lease payments.
The balance of €2.52 million will be used to progress a variety of projects, which are in various stages of development and could include, depending on the availability of resources and other variables, the following during 2019:
- Ongoing preparatory work on a dedicated Dublin Family Court complex on Hammond Lane;
- A condition survey of approximately 70 court buildings nationwide (intended to be completed in 2019) to ascertain the physical condition of each courthouse building, to identify works required to bring each building up to an acceptable standard and to determine ongoing maintenance requirements;
- Minor capital works required to enhance buildings and physical infrastructure in Dublin and nationwide;
- Site acquisitions as a prerequisite step to enable the future development/extension and refurbishment of courthouse facilities at a number of County town venues;
- Preparations for courthouse developments at Dungloe and Tuam.
The Courts Service has also advised that the contractual commitment relating to the PPP contracts for the Criminal Courts of Justice Complex in Dublin is €22.973 million and the seven Regional Courthouses is €14.744 million, amounting to €37.717m of the overall capital allocation for 2019.