Councillors ‘intimidated’ by location of city courts

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

Barrier: Limerick City Hall and the city's courtrooms, which lie side by side
COUNCILLORS want to see a barrier separating their route into City Hall and those congregating outside the courthouse.

COUNCILLORS want to see a barrier separating their route into City Hall and those congregating outside the courthouse.

They say they feel “intimidated” by the location of the courthouse, which lies beside the city’s democratic headquarters, pointing out that hardened criminals congregate there.

At the launch of the new Limerick 2030 economic plan, Finance Minister Michael Noonan revealed the courtroom should move to Mulgrave Street next year.

But councillors want contingency plans to be put in place until this happens - including the erection of a retractable barrier, normally used for crowd control.

Speaking at this month’s council meeting, Fianna Fail’s city east councillor Kieran O’Hanlon said: “The sooner this is moved the better. What goes on is disgraceful at times. Councillors can find it hard to get through, and we feel intimidated.”

He pointed out that “busloads” of tourists congregate outside City Hall throughout the summer, and “it gives the wrong impression.”

“Can a barrier be put in place to differentiate the two. People should not be mixed up,” he asked.

Sinn Fein councillor Maurice Quinlivan called on the gardai to park out of sight of the courthouse - because it can lead to fear among members of the public.

“I am almost afraid to be here myself. Until the court is moved, there are various things we can do,” he said.

Fine Gael’s northside councillor Cormac Hurley added: “From the moment I came here, I could tell there was something wrong. It is absolutely disgraceful what we have seen on occasion.”

Southside councillor Pat Kennedy said putting the courthouse next to City Hall back in the 1990s was a “grave mistake”.

“We got the mix wrong,” he said.

Mayor Kathleen Leddin branded the courthouse’s location as “a disgrace” - and called for a move as soon as possible.

Council official Eugene Griffin said meetings will be sought with gardai on the matter.