Family court planned for Hammond Lane faces delay over rezoning
Move to insert park on part of Dublin city site earmarked for modern family court
The Courts Service plans to build a €40 million child and family court complex on a .45 hectare site at Hammond Lane, close to Church Street, to open in 2020.
Another generation “will have their futures decided while they stand in corridors” if a proposed rezoning of land is allowed to affect a new family court complex in Dublin, children’s charity Barnardos has said.
Freda McKittrick, assistant director of the charity, said the planned new family court, at Hammond Lane, would provide the opportunity to “transform the experiences of children who attend court to have their voices heard”, and would put in place modern facilities.
The Courts Service plans to build a €40 million child and family court complex on the .45 hectare site, close to the Luas Red line and Church Street, to open in 2020. But an amendment to the draft Dublin development plan seeks to rezone a portion as a public park.
Speaking on behalf of Barnardos’ Guardian ad Litem service, which provides court-appointed guardians to children in care, Ms McKittrick said current court facilities add to the distress of children and their parents. “The childcare and family courts sit at Dolphin House, a former hotel,” she said. “Parents . . . have to stand in corridors without seating, many waiting for several hours before their cases are heard. Intimate details of their family situation are openly discussed in corridors.”
“The buildings are imposing, some would say intimidating,” she said. “Steps lead down to the dank basement, where the children’s waiting areas will be located in the former cells.”
The proposal to change the zoning of Hammond Lane could seriously delay the new family court, “making it likely that another generation of children will have their futures decided while they stand in corridors for a chance to have their voices heard”.
Councillor Ciarán Cuffe, who proposed the rezoning, said he wanted to see an increase in recreational and amenity space in that part of the city. He said the rezoning would affect less than 15 per cent of the site and the Courts Service could consider making the building taller.