New complex to centralise courts

Mon, Nov 23, 2009, 00:00

A €140 million criminal court complex designed to centralise and augment Dublin’s existing courts services was unveiled today.

The Criminal Courts of Justice (CCJ), located on the western side of the city’s legal quarter on the corner of Parkgate Street and Infirmary Road, contains 22 courts and an additional 450 rooms.

The 23,000 square-metre complex will eventually become home to the Court of Criminal Appeal, Special Criminal Court, Central Criminal Court, the Circuit Criminal Court, the District Courts and their associated facilities.

The basement of the complex contains cell accommodation for up to 100 detainees, which will eventually end the practice of defendants being brought to court handcuffed and in public view.

Half of the courtrooms have electronic evidence display facilities, and six have video conferencing and video link facilities.

The buildings also provide improved facilities for jurors, including a dining area and several fresh air facilities, and jury retiring rooms within a segregated area.

A large office area has been rented to the Bar Council for criminal bar and library.

The courts deal with over 400,000 criminal matters per year, more than half of these are heard in Dublin.

The capital’s criminal courts, which are currently spread across the city centre and the Four Courts complex, have struggled to cope with the growing case load in recent decades.

The Courts Service said the Criminal Courts of Justice has the potential to hear up to 200,000 cases per year.

“This new complex provides us with a centralised facility to cater for all criminal court business in Dublin,” it said.

Chief executive of the Courts Service Brendan Ryan said the CCJ will create “a future which promises a great change in the axis of activity in our capital’s legal quarter".

Mr Ryan said: “It is the first State building of such monumental proportions to be built since 1796 - when the Four Courts were first brought into operation”.

The project was completed several months ahead of schedule and delivered via a public-private partnership. The complex will be officially opened by President Mary McAleese in January.

Meanwhile, one of the country’s most historic courthouses could be transformed into a legal museum. Officials want to open up Dublin’s Green Street Courthouse, where revolutionist Robert Emmet delivered a courageous and powerful speech the day before his execution.

The landmark building is currently used as the Special Criminal Court for non-jury trials against suspected terrorists and organised crime bosses.

The Court Service revealed that when trials move to its new Criminal Courts of Justice in the coming weeks the listed building will be used as a High Court for civil business.

(Additional reporting - PA)