The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Mr. Dermot Ahern, TD, has today published the Courts and Court Officers Bill 2009 to allow for efficient operational procedures at the new Criminal Courts of Justice when it is opened early in 2010.

The new complex near the Phoenix Park, which is being delivered through a Public Private Partnership, commenced construction in May 2007 and is due to be handed over to the Courts Service four months ahead of schedule in November 2009.

The new complex has 450 rooms, including 22 courtrooms and ancillary facilities over 10 floors, and will provide vastly improved facilities for the public, legal practitioners, jurors, victims and their families. It will also provide a central holding facility for people in custody.

The Minister said: "This is the largest court building project since Gandon’s Four Courts was completed in the late 18th Century. I am bringing forward this necessary legislation now in order to achieve maximum efficiencies within the vast new building. This Bill will allow the custody facility at the new Criminal Courts of Justice to be managed by the Irish Prison Service. The measures will streamline the procedure for custody arrangements and the movement of people around the building.  In addition, it will avoid duplication of duties by An Garda Síochána and will assist in freeing Gardaí for operational duties."

Additional technical provisions will enable courts staff to operate in a single administrative office in support of all courts, allowing for improved flexibility and staffing arrangements. A further minor amendment will facilitate the acceptance of bail recognisance by District Court clerks in relation to persons remanded on bail in the District Court. 

It is intended that the Bill will be brought forward for debate early in the autumn term in order to facilitate its early enactment. 

The Bill is available on the Oireachtas website www.oireachtas.ie 

12 August 2009

Note for Editors

The Bill provides for temporary custody arrangements for persons in custody when attending court; the establishment of court offices supporting more than one jurisdictional area ("combined court office"); and to extend the categories of persons who may take bail recognisance where bail is granted pending trial or sentence or pending an appeal.

These changes are initially necessary in the context of the new Criminal Courts of Justice complex in Dublin but will have a wider effect where appropriate.