Judicial history made as Supreme Court sits outside Dublin

All 10 judges of Supreme Court sit in Cork for the first time to hear two cases

Judicial history was made today when the Supreme Court sat outside Dublin for the first time in its 85-year history.

Chief Justice Susan Denham also announced that construction work is due to start later this year on a new €20 million criminal court complex for the city.

Mrs Justice Denham said 170 construction jobs will be created during the building of the new complex, which will take 18-24 months to complete. It will be located at the car park at the rear of the existing Anglesea Street Courthouse.

Announcing details of the new court complex which will be built under a public-private partnership, Mrs Justice Denham said it would provide “a state-of-the-art court venue with six courtrooms”.


"The criminal business of the city will be heard there, at District and Circuit level. The facility will also be available to the Central Criminal Court, when needed. Construction work on this project will begin before the end of the year.

"Washington Street will be the centre of all civil and family law, where the District, Circuit and High Courts will sit," said Mrs Justice Denham when introducing an inaugural memorial lecture in honour of the late Mr Justice Kevin Feeney, at University College Cork.

Earlier, she was joined by her fellow judges of the Supreme Court, when the court created judicial history by sitting outside of Dublin for the first time and hearing two cases at the Washington Street Courthouse in Cork.

Together with Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman, Mr Justice Frank Clarke, Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne and Mr Justice Peter Charleton, she began hearing a case involving a child sex abuse survivor seeking inclusion in the Redress Compensation Board Scheme. Meanwhile, Mr Justice John Murray, Mr Justice Donal O'Donnell, Mr Justice John McMenamin and Ms Justice Mary Laffoy together with Corkman Mr Justice Liam McKechnie heard a separate case on costs in a childcare matter.

Earlier, in another unprecedented move, the media were allowed to record with sound and pictures the Supreme Court in session as Mrs Justice Denham spoke about how pleased she and her colleagues were to sit in Cork. “It is a great pleasure for the Supreme Court to be in Cork to hear cases in this magnificent Washington Street Courthouse This is the first time that the Supreme Court has heard cases outside of Dublin, and the first time outside the Four Courts since it was refurbished in 1931.”

Tradition of justice

Mrs Justice Denham said that, in deciding to come to Cork, the Supreme Court was particularly conscious of the great tradition of administering justice in both the Washington Street Courthouse and, more recently, the Anglesea Street Courthouse.

"As the nation approaches the first centennial anniversary of its creation, it is timely that the Supreme Court sits in locations in the State in addition to the Four Courts," she told an audience which included Judge David Riordan of Cork Circuit Court.

Father of the Cork Bar Don McCarthy said the Cork Bar and the Munster Bar were both honoured at the decision of the Supreme Court to choose Cork as the venue for its first venture outside of Dublin.

Dermot Gleeson SC said that on behalf of both Munster Bar and the Irish Bar, he was delighted to welcome the Supreme Court to Cork in particular to such a historic courtroom which had seen such great legal practitioners as Daniel O’Connell and John A Costello.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times