147. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if the courthouse in Tralee will be renovated (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6286/18]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): As the Deputy is aware, under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts, including the provision of accommodation for court sittings, 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 it is aware of the deficiencies in the court accommodation and facilities in Tralee Courthouse and that, as part of its provincial capital building programme, one of the objectives is to provide improved court accommodation in Tralee.
The Courts Service has advised that it envisages a courthouse comprising four courtrooms and related facilities as being required to meet current and future needs in Tralee and that this will require a building significantly larger than the existing courthouse on Ashe Street. In terms of providing upgraded court accommodation the refurbishment, extension and development of existing courthouses has always been the Courts Service's preference. However, while this is an option for Tralee, the scope for refurbishing and developing the existing courthouse on Ashe Street to provide the envisaged accommodation is extremely limited due to the nature of the building and the constrained nature of the site.
The Courts Service has also advised that it is currently considering a number of options for Tralee Courthouse, including the level of extension and refurbishment achievable within the confines of the existing courthouse site; whether it would be feasible to acquire an adjacent town centre site and the degree of extension and refurbishment this would allow. Previous efforts to acquire adjacent sites on Ashe Street have not been successful as the sites could not be acquired at a price that represented value for money. A further option is to build a new modern courthouse on a greenfield/brownfield site. The Courts Service has informed me that a decision has not yet been made and that all options are under review.
Tralee is one of a number of provincial city/county town venues nationwide still requiring new or upgraded courthouse accommodation and collectively these venues will be the next priority for investment in courthouse facilities outside the capital.