Dismay at possible closure of courts

by Gazette Reporter
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Courts in Swords and Balbriggan are in danger of closing as Dublin city and county courts are to be totally reorganised. The Courts Service has proposed an overhaul of Dublin’s District Courts which would see the centralisation of criminal business in the Criminal Courts of Justice and traffic cases into Blanchardstown courthouse.
This move has been described as a “massive blow to the communities in North County Dublin” by Independent TD Clare Daly this week.
This is the first such review and re-organisation of these services in many years and it follows on from a major reorganisation of services throughout the country over the past four years. The proposals will first be considered by the building committee of the Courts Service at the end of June. The board of the Courts Service will make the final decision in relation to the closure of any venue.
The proposals are to close the offices in Swords and court venues in Swords, Balbriggan and create two new dedicated road traffic courts for Dublin, in Blanchardstown courthouse.
All road traffic summons offences dealt with in Chancery Street, Swords, Balbriggan, will be transferred to the proposed road traffic courts in Blanchardstown.
Charge sheet criminal business and Garda summonses dealt with in Swords, Balbriggan, will be transferred to the Criminal Courts of Justice in Parkgate Street
All other business currently dealt with in Swords and Balbriggan will be distributed among existing civil/family law courts in the city centre
The Courts Service said: “The changes we are proposing are a once in a generation opportunity, to improve the organisation and delivery of District Court business in Dublin. Our staff are currently stretched to the limit to meet and maintain existing service levels, and at the same time meet increasing demand.
“These proposals will result in improved services for court users in offices and courtrooms which are fit for purpose, have facilities, support services which cannot be provided at suburban venues, and enable people to conduct their business with dignity and privacy.
“With no change, we will have to cut back services, and there will be increased waiting times. If we do not reorganise, there will inevitably be disruption to and cancellation of court sittings.”
Deputy Daly described this as an enormous blow to communities in north County Dublin. She said: “The idea that the Swords and Balbriggan courthouses would be forced to close would be an enormous blow to the communities in the north county.
“It is absolutely outrageous that staff would be expected to be reassigned and travel lengthy distances to access their jobs and it is a great inconvenience to residents in north County Dublin that they would have to undertake substantial travel in order to access court services which have long operated in our communities.”
Deputy Daly appealed for the courthouses to be allowed to remain open, in light of the long-standing and important service that they provided in both communities over the decades, and to all concerned citizens and community groups to rally for support to save the courthouses.
Consultation will now begin, and the Courts Service has invited submissions in advance of the suggestions going to its building committee at the end of the month, with final proposals going before the organisations board in July. Submissions should be sent to [email protected] by June 23 2014.
Subject to board agreement, the service expects the new arrangements to take effect in January 2015.

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