Today (Monday, 10 July), the Minister for Minister for Justice and Equality, Mr. Charlie Flanagan T.D. formally opened a new state of the art courthouse in Drogheda, Co. Louth at a ceremony presided over by the Chief Justice, the Hon. Mrs. Justice Susan Denham.


Speaking at the official opening in the new courthouse, Minister Flanagan stated:


“This Government and its immediate predecessor have prioritised reform of the courts and the legal system.  It is only right that as we update our laws and legal systems that we also update our Courts infrastructure.


“High profile innovations by the last Government include the establishment of the Court of Appeal and this Government has ambitious plans to establish a dedicated Family Court within existing court structures.  Work is underway in my Department on the General Scheme of a Family Court Bill which will aim to streamline family law court processes, clarify jurisdictional issues and provide for a set of guiding principles to help ensure that the Family Court will operate in a user-friendly and efficient manner.


“The Family Court Bill will support the proposals in the Mediation Bill 2017 by encouraging greater use of alternative dispute resolution to assist in more timely resolution of family law cases.  I hope to see that Mediation Bill passed before the Oireachtas rises for the recess. 


“And while these innovations are high profile, local courthouses are also a major priority.


“This project is one of a number courthouse projects announced by the Government in 2012.  In seven locations around the country Public Private Partnerships will deliver new courthouses or substantial refurbishments.  In terms of scale, the Courts Public Private Partnership Bundle project is the largest capital building project ever undertaken by the Courts Service, delivering a total of 31 courtrooms and 36,000 m2 of accommodation nationwide.


“The Courts Service must be congratulated for this ambitious programme along with the Office of Public Works and the National Development Finance Agency who, together with my Department, are working together on these projects.


“This is the first courthouse to be completed under the programme announced in 2012 and I acknowledge that my timing is good as I have the privilege of formally opening this building, just a month after being appointed Minister for Justice and Equality. 


“Construction is underway on the other six sites and these are due to be completed before the end of the year.  These new and refurbished courthouses are a lasting testament to the commitment of the Courts Service Board and the Courts Service staff to the delivery of improved standards and services to all.


“The opening of this new courthouse in Drogheda is an example of the Government’s commitment to improve access to justice and it illustrates the work that has been done with the Courts Service and the Judiciary in this regard.”


In his remarks, Minister Flanagan drew on his own experience as a practising solicitor for many years saying:


As a solicitor in practice in Portlaoise for many years, I know this is a significant day for the local legal community.  And from a community perspective, I am keenly aware of the importance of the local courthouse. 


“From an exterior perspective, the courthouse is a reminder to everyone who sees it of the role of the State in administering justice though the judicial branch.  This building has an assertive civic quality and an important location historic old walled area of Drogheda and visible from the public plaza close to the river.  Architecturally it speaks to both the ancient world in terms of its contemporary interpretation of the traditional portico and its limestone colonnades. 


“From an interior perspective, this is a place that is both light filled and related to the landscape around it with wonderful views of the Mary Magdalene Church and the Boyne River.  For some a court can be an intimidating place.  So often, the courthouse is a place where life changing decisions are handed down.  The court deals with so many different, complex and sensitive issues that affect people’s lives in myriad ways.  So to have a local courthouse, a place that is accessible, modern and user-friendly is really important. 


“Here in this fine new building, the floor plans are organised around the central courtrooms allowing the public, Judge, jury and persons in custody to enter from distinctly different directions.


“The landscape plan resolves access issues resulting from the requirement for the building to be elevated above the flood plain of the Boyne Valley. The stepped approach to the building leads the public to the main entrance and the ramped access provides a discreet separation between the public outdoor space and the private secure entrance to the custody yard to the north of the plan.”


The Minister concluded:


“I am confident that this new courthouse will meet the needs of Drogheda and the surrounding area for many decades to come.”