55. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if a new courthouse for Portlaoise has been included as a priority for capital funding. [10491/17]
Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): 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 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 conscious of the need to provide improved courthouse accommodation for Portlaoise. It is currently trying to acquire a suitable site on which a new courthouse could be built and I understand a number of sites are under consideration and that the Courts Service has engaged with both Laois County Council and the OPW in this regard.
As the Deputy may be aware, the Courts Public Private Partnership Bundle consists of seven projects in various locations nationwide where new or refurbished courthouse accommodation will be provided in 2017. Following completion of this major programme of work, Portlaoise will be one of only five provincial city/county town venues still requiring new or upgraded courthouse accommodation, the others being Galway, Roscommon, Tralee and Wicklow. The Courts Service has confirmed that collectively these cities and towns will be the next priority for investment in courthouse facilities outside of the capital. The Courts Service is currently in the process of acquiring property for these projects as there is a requirement in all cases, except Wicklow, for new/additional property in order to undertake the projects.