96. Deputy Steven Matthews asked the Minister for Justice if her attention has been drawn to the need to clean and carry out minor repairs to the old courthouse façade in Wicklow town (details supplied); her views on whether this work can be prioritised in the coming months to coincide with the large investment in the town square; the position regarding the proposed return of court services to this building; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51092/21]
Minister for Justice (Deputy Heather Humphreys): As the Deputy will be 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 its functions. However, in order to be of assistance, I have had enquiries and the Courts Service has provided me with the following update on Wicklow Town Courthouse.
I am advised that the existing courthouse building, comprising two courtrooms, is in very poor condition and is currently closed on health and safety grounds. All court business is currently being dealt with at Bray.
The Courts Service further advises that a courthouse comprising four courtrooms and related facilities (for example, consultation rooms, custody facilities, facilities for juries and vulnerable witnesses, legal practitioner’s suites, etc.) is required to meet current and future demand in Wicklow. This will require a building significantly larger than the existing two courtroom building. The Courts Service proposes to refurbish and extend the courthouse to provide the required accommodation and has acquired a number of adjoining properties that were in council ownership so as to have available a larger site capable of accommodating a courthouse building on the scale envisaged.
The Courts Service remains committed to a redevelopment of Wicklow Courthouse and the revised National Development Plan (NDP) 2021-2030, includes a number of courthouse development projects, including for Wicklow Town. The Courts Service is in the process of developing a new estate strategy including development priorities for the period up to 2030.
The Government has committed to investing over €270m every year for the next five years in capital projects in the Justice Sector as part of NDP 2021-2030, which represents a significant increase on recent years. This investment will provide for the completion of vital projects such as a new family law complex at Hammond Lane, and continuing investment in building and refurbishment projects across the Justice sector, which include court buildings.