Cllr Says Govt Have Council ‘Over A Barrel’ Over Locating Courthouse At Denny Site

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A TRALEE councillor feels the Courts Services have the Council ‘over a barrel’ on the issue of locating a new Courthouse in the old Denny site.

Meanwhile, a local businessman, speaking at a public meeting on Monday night, said he would stand in front of the machinery at any development of a new courthouse at the Island of Geese site.

The issue came up at the meeting of Tralee Municipal District councillors on Tuesday morning at county buildings, when an update on the Denny site as per the submissions of the people of Tralee was asked for by Cllr Sam Locke (Ind).

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He was told that detailed proposals were being developed for the public realm and amenity areas within the site.

Proposals are also being developed for the community building residential development and enterprise space and it is planned to apppoint an architect in respect of this by September. These proposals are in addition to any discussions with the Office of Public Works.

Cllr Toireasa Ferris (SF) said it was confusing that the Council was moving to the appointment of an architect, before they knew what was going in there. She asked if a decision had already been made.

Tralee Municipal District manager, Michael Scannell, said a masterplan on the layout was brought to councillors on the site last year and based on that it would be a mixed use development that would have daytime and nighttime uses, a community basis, attract investment into town and have a residential element.

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He said if the OPW and Courts Service discussions came up with a proposal to locate a new Courthouse at the Island of Geese, then that would come back to the Council for decision.

Cllr Ferris asked on what basis these discussions were taking place. She said at no stage did any councillor come up with a proposal that a Courthouse form part of the Island of Geese development.

Cllr Pa Daly (SF) said that the Courts Services have the council “over a barrel” and that they were effectively saying that if the Council doesn’t agree to them moving to the Denny site, they will move the courts outside of the town.

He believes that the Courthouse could still be upgraded and there was space for offices in surrounding buildings. He said little or no investment had been made in the building in the past 30 years.

Cllr Sam Locke said it was not sitting well with the people of Tralee that a Courthouse is mooted for the site and he would be objecting to locating it there. He also said there are properties near to the existing Courthouse that could be used by the Courts Service.

Cllr Norma Foley said that if it was the case that the Council was “over a barrel”, it was tantamount to blackmail by the Courts Service and surely illegal.

She said not one submission from the public was made for a new Courthouse at the Denny site and if the Council was to be true to the public’s wishes it should not go in there. She asked where the OPW was getting the idea that the Council was endorsing this location.

Michael Scannell said it appears that the Courts Service is unwilling to upgrade the existing Courthouse to bring it up to the standard required for a modern day courts facility and an alternative will have to be found.

He said one option was a portion of the Island of Geese site and outside of that there is no other town centre site available and otherwise the courts will be moved outside the town centre.

Mr Scannell said no decision has yet been made on the location of a new Courthouse and it was made clear that any proposal would have to come before councillors before a decision is made.

Mayor of Tralee, Jim Finucane, said the facilities are not up to standard in the current Courthouse. He said in the past, sites suggested for a new Courthouse included at the barracks in Ballymullen and the Fels Point site, which is in Council ownership and could still be an option.

He said that in his discussions with the Minister for Justice, he was told renovating the Courthouse was not feasible. He said regardless of where a new Courthouse was located, the old building, with investment, would be ideal for an arts or civic centre.

Meanwhile, the previous night saw huge opposition to the suggestion that a Courthouse be located in the Denny site.

At a Town Hall meeting in the KDYS, organised by Bairbre de Bairead and a committee, and attended by around 150 people, local auctioneer Eddie Barrett said he was at the forefront of a group 50 years ago formed the stop the Council from putting a road through the town park and they succeeded in halting that development.

He said all these years later, he certainly won’t allow the Department of Justice locate at the Island of Geese, which was given to the people of Tralee. Mr Barrett said that although he was no fan of the British, they did build a fine Courthouse and it should not be allowed deteriorate.

He said he would be standing in front of the JCBs if they started development of a new Courthouse at the Denny Site.

One Comment

  1. Matty O'Leary says:

    A new Courthouse literally across the road from the Garda station makes for a lot of sense for the town of Tralee.
    This would be a win for the civil services of the town.

    The opportunity to reinvent the historic Tralee Courthouse which was designed by Sir Richard Morrison and built in 1835 with a monument of two cannons commemorating those Kerrymen who died in the Crimean War (1854–56) and the Indian Rebellion (1857) would make a wonderful Rose of Tralee museum which is much needed as the international festival has no such venue to explore the story and the festivals history. I feel such a museum would become a magnet for tourists itineraries visiting Kerry.
    This would be a win for the tourism of the town.

    So, will the town of Tralee become the village idiot of Ireland by looking this once in a multigenerational gift horse in the mouth?

    Only time will tell.