A NEW state-of-the-art criminal courts complex is to be built near Limerick Prison after the project was included in the Government’s €2.25bn stimulus plan.
The multi-million euro courthouse will replace the existing district court building which is located adjacent to City Hall.
“The existing District Court courtroom is inadequate and custody facilities are very limited. Additional office space is also required as staff are in leased accommodation,” said Minister Alan Shatter who said discussions are ongoing regarding acquiring a state- owned site for the new courts complex.
The Limerick Leader understands that civil cases and family law cases will continue to be heard at the current Circuit Court building, which was redeveloped in recent years.
The Department of Justice says it hopes construction of the new courthouse can begin next year.
Concerns have been expressed for a number of years about the location of the current district court building so close to City Hall and tourist attractions such as King John’s Castle and St Mary’s Cathedral.
“Quite frankly one of the motivation factors why we looked to move the courthouse is because of its current location,” said Minister Jan O’Sullivan.
Cllr Michael Hourigan, chairman of the Limerick city Joint Policing Committee, has welcomed the announcement.
“The relocation of the courthouse has been something that has been looked for many years. For many reasons it is great to see it being moved because it is an area that is an attraction for tourists and it is also an area that attracts footfall from people who are going into city hall for whatever reason,” he said adding that there is also huge expense transporting prisoners from Limerick prison for court hearings
In its stimulus plan, which was unveiled this afternoon, the Government also announced that a number of primary health-care facilities are to be built across the country over the next three years.
Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, has confirmed that one of the centres will be built in the Ballinacurra Weston area of the city.
He says the inclusion of the new courthouse and the health centre is good news for Limerick.
“These projects will create much needed jobs in the construction industry in Limerick and I hope that the procurement process will be concluded and that work will commence on both projects as soon as possible,” he said.