Court staff to move but hearings remain on Jail Hill

Court staff in Mullingar will be moving out of the courthouse building into more suitable accommodation but court cases will still be heard in the old building on Mount Street.

Despite hopes in recent years that the courthouse would be extensively renovated, there are no plans to start any works on the courthouse building itself.

In fact, the Courts Service does not foresee any major projects on the courthouses in Mullingar or elsewhere beginning this year.

“There are no plans in the immediate future,” a spokesman said, citing the financial climate and limited resources.

This follows a statement from the Courts Service in July 2009, stating that work would be undertaken soon.

“It is proposed to refurbish and extend the Courthouse at Mullingar but work has not commenced on this project yet. While the building is in need of repair, modernisation, and refurbishment, it is not in a dangerous condition,” the 2009 statement read.

It was planned that the work would go to tender in 2009 and that work would begin later the same year.

The spokesperson said the planning preparation was underway and alternative accommodation for staff and for court hearings had been sourced to be used during the refurbishment but that work did not begin.

Some repair work was carried out to the outside of the building in 2009 after a plant began to grow through the stonework, loosening it. This was strapped in place with metal.

Some investigative work was undertaken to establish what work would need to be done as part of the main contract of work which has not taken place.

However, the Courts Service has confirmed that District and Circuit Court staff who currently work on the first floor of the old building will be moving to more appropriate accommodation this summer.

Westmeath County Council has agreed to lease the former motor tax/library offices at Church Avenue to the Courts Service at a cost of around €60,000 per year.

The lease is for ten years, will see an initial rent of €110 per metre of gross internal area and there will be a break option at the end of year five and annually thereafter.

A rent review will also take place after five years.

A spokesperson for the Courts Service said the offices are for Mullingar’s administrative support staff and will be “a more suitable location” than the courthouse at Jail Hill.

He said he hopes the agreement will allow staff to move into the offices by June, and they are currently being refurbished by the council.

The courtrooms, where public court business is held, will remain where they are.

The District Court sits in Mullingar every Thursday and every second Friday but a lack of appropriate space for prisoners means the Circuit Criminal Court for Mullingar now sits in Tullamore.

The High Court and Circuit Civil Court as well as the Coroner’s Court continue to sit in the courthouse in Mullingar.

 

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