Minister to raise issue of Four Courts’ restaurant closure

Courts’ only public restaurant, running for more than 40 years, expected to become offices

The closure is proposed to become effective from next Tuesday when the current restaurant operator Aramark ceases its operation in the complex.

The closure is proposed to become effective from next Tuesday when the current restaurant operator Aramark ceases its operation in the complex.

 

The Minister for Justice is to raise the planned permanent closure of the only public restaurant in the Four Courts with the chief executive of the Courts Service.

A spokeswoman for Charlie Flanagan said he was aware of the issue and had been asked to intervene. “While the catering arrangements are a matter for the Courts Service, the Minister does intend discussing the matter with the CEO in the next few days,” she told The Irish Times.

The development came at the weekend after strong opposition to the closure was voiced by the Law Society, Bar Council, Fianna Fáil and hundreds of court users.

The closure is proposed to become effective from next Tuesday when the current restaurant operator Aramark ceases its operation in the complex.

The Office of Public Works, which owns the Four Courts building, has said the restaurant space would be provided to the Courts Service which has said the space would be used “for the administration of justice”. It is understood the intention is to convert it into offices.

Minister for the Office of Public Works, Kevin “Boxer” Moran, had also been asked to intervene to ensure a public restaurant facility continues to be available when the courts resume full operation in October after the summer vacation.

Future

In a statement, Mr Moran said he “acknowledges the numerous expressions and representations made” regarding the future of the restaurant and bar facilities in the Four Courts.

“While the Four Courts building is owned by the OPW, it is a matter for the Courts Service to determine the future use of the space being vacated by the current occupiers of the restaurant area,” he said.

A public restaurant has operated in the Four Courts for more than four decades. A small bar had also operated alongside the restaurant but has effectively not operated for some time.

Hundreds of people use the Four Courts on a daily basis and the closure of the public restaurant means the only restaurant in the complex will be the barristers’ restaurant, which is not open to the public. A small coffee shop which operates in the complex can seat a maximum 20 people and does not serve hot meals.

A public restaurant does operate in the separate Criminal Courts of Justice building on Parkgate Street.

Fianna Fáil Justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan said hundreds of citizens attend the Four Courts daily. “It is unfair on users of the Four Courts to take away from them the public restaurant where they can avail of services during what can be a very busy and stressful day.”

Ken Murphy, director general of the Law Society, said the proposed closure was a “regrettable and retrograde” decision that appears to prioritise the interests of court administrators over those of the public. “The public deserve more respect than this,” he said.