No decsion made yet on “Services of local Court Houses”

Please see below the response I received from Minister Shatter in relation to Court Services.

Jim Daly TD
Leinster House
Kildare Street
Dublin 2

17th October 2012

Dear Jim.

I wish to inform you that under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service which is independent in exercising its functions, which includes the provision of accommodation for court sittings.

However, in order to be of assistance, I have had enquiries made and have been informed that the Courts Service has been reviewing all aspects of its organisational and operational structures throughout the country with the specific objective of ensuring that the Service can continue to maintain the delivery of front line court services and an appropriate level of service to court users. I understand that no court venue has been singled out for or indeed exempted from the review process.

In this context a comprehensive review of venues has recently been completed, the purpose of which was to establish a general framework within which venues could be considered for closure taking into account a range of criteria such as caseload, proximity to an alternative venue, physical condition of the building, availability of cells etc. The likely impact on other Justice agencies, such as An Garda Síochána and the Irish Prison Service, is also taken into account. The review identified a range of venues nationwide which, based on the criteria applied, could be considered for closure subject to a detailed assessment and the preparation of a business case in respect of each identified venue which has now commenced.

The Service has advised that the identification of venues as part of the review process does not conclusively mean that the identified venues will close. I am informed that no decision will be taken on an individual venue without prior consultation with local stakeholders and I understand that this consultation will be undertaken at an early stage in the assessment process so that all views can be fully reflected in the decision making process. It should be noted that the final decision will be a matter for the Courts Service Board. Under the statute I have no role or function in the matter.

The Courts Service has informed me that the cost savings will be calculated as part of the detailed assessment of each individual venue. It is anticipated that the annual cost savings per venue closed will be in the region of €10,000. It should be emphasised, however, that savings alone are not the objective and the intention of the proposed consolidation is to achieve operational efficiencies and a greater throughput of cases combined with providing an appropriate level of service to court users.