The Court Service has decided not to shut Dún Laoghaire Courts Service following a review.
The plan to shut the court did not publicly reveal any examination of the costs and benefits of the closure plan. The suspicion was that the Courts Service was closing a facility without saving any money as had been the case with the Garda station closures in Dalkey and Deansgrange.
Dún Laoghaire is a busy courthouse with a full schedule of sittings. The proposal was to distribute Dún Laoghaire cases across the county from Blanchardstown to Smithfield. This would have led to significant waste of Garda and public time as witnesses and defendants would have had to trek around between these courthouses.
The decision is welcome and shows that the consultation process can work.
The following is the explanation from the Courts Service for their decision:
The Courts Service recently undertook a review of the administration and delivery of court services in the Dublin Region. The purpose of the review was to identify in consultation with all stakeholders, a range of options which could be considered to enable the Courts Service to maintain frontline court services, and support court sittings in the context of reduced budgetary and staffing availability.
Arising from the review, draft proposals were formulated to address the resourcing and budgetary deficit including the closure of suburban court offices and venues in the city and county.
The Service has undertaken extensive consultation with Court users across the city, county and justice sector. We engaged thoroughly and listened actively to what people told us.
While the reorganisation as proposed would yield significant benefit to the Courts Service, we have always been aware of the potential impact on court users. We have now been told that the proposals could also result in increased costs across the justice sector and be organisationally challenging for other agencies in the sector.
We are always cognisant of the needs of court users and of other justice sector agencies and have accordingly decided not to proceed with the reorganisation at this time.
The issues which triggered the review remain and the Service will now have no option but to seek alternative strategies, which will inevitability require the assignment of additional resources to maintain existing levels of service.