New €100m Forensic Science Ireland facility ‘most advanced in Europe’

Facility located near Celbridge in Co Kildare includes 32 specialised clean rooms designed for the discovery and analysis of trace evidence

The new Forensic Science Ireland (FSI) headquarters is “the most advanced in Europe” and its opening is “a really huge day”, said the head of FSI Chris Enright.

The €100 million facility at the Backweston campus near Celbridge, Co Kildare, would enable new technologies “that could only have been dreamed of 50 years ago” at FSI’s inception. This would ensure the type of evidence required for prosecutions in criminal cases to be produced at the ever-faster pace required.

“The demand for our services has grown dramatically over the years and this new building positions us very well to respond,” Mr Enright said at the official opening of the facility on Thursday.

“The building also allows us to provide a more integrated forensic service, where all of our chemical analysis, DNA and biological analysis and physical analysis services can be provided from the same location in an integrated and cohesive way.”


Recent advances in forensic science were “having an enormous impact on the criminal justice system’s ability to deliver justice and deter crime”.

The new 13,000sq m facility was opened by Minister for Justice Helen McEntee and Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works Patrick O’Donovan.

“This is the largest ever capital project directly funded by the exchequer in the justice sector, at just over €100 million,” Ms McEntee said. “That is reflective of the absolutely crucial role that FSI plays in our criminal justice system and really is a practical demonstration of the Government’s commitment to building stronger, safer communities.”

The new FSI offices and laboratories have opened after years of concerns about the workload the service was under. Three years ago the Garda raised concerns after it emerged the very large increase in drug seizures had created a backlog of 6,000 samples at FSI.

Overall, the number of submissions by the Garda to FSI for analysis annually at that time had reached 28,916 including drugs, DNA for sexual offence cases and other crimes, fingerprints and handwriting samples. This was 54 per cent higher than in 2019 and up 74 per cent on 2018.

Construction on the new facility began in March 2020 and the new centre is just over three times as large as FSI’s previous premises within Garda Headquarters, Phoenix Park, Dublin, where it had been based since 1975.

The service provides the scientific services for the criminal justice service, including analysing drug seizures to confirm drug type, and support the prosecution of a range of other cases, including sexual crimes, as well as assisting in missing persons cases.

It has a staff of 210, comprised of scientists and analysts as well as some Garda members seconded to the service. As well as additional laboratories and offices, the new facility also includes storage and support workspaces.

There are also 32 specialised clean rooms, which are designed for the “recovery, processing and analysis of trace evidence” that can prove crucial to linking suspects to crimes.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times