Minister Flanagan officially opens refurbished and extended Mullingar Courthouse
- · Mullingar final of seven new and refurbished courthouses opened under €150m Courts PPP bundle
- · Further new and refurbished courthouses to be delivered in regional cities and county towns including Galway, Wicklow, Portlaoise, Tralee and Roscommon and provincial locations such as a Dungloe and Tuam under NDP
The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan TD, has today officially opened the newly refurbished and extended Mullingar Courthouse. The €14m project is the last of seven new and refurbished courthouses opened as part of the €150m Courts Public Private Partnership (PPP) bundle. The Courts PPP project has delivered a total of 31 courtrooms and 36,000 square meters of accommodation nationwide. It is the largest capital building project ever undertaken by the Courts Service. As well as Mullingar, new or refurbished courthouses have been opened in Drogheda, Letterkenny, Wexford, Limerick, Waterford and Cork.
Speaking at opening, also attended by the Chief Justice Mr Frank Clarke, Minister Flanagan said: “I am delighted to be here in Mullingar for the official opening of the refurbished and extended courthouse building. It is going to be a busy courthouse. Almost 6,000 criminal, family law and civil matters were dealt with in Mullingar Circuit and District Courts in 2017.
While this is the final courthouse in the Courts PPP package, under the Government’s National Development Plan 2018-2027 further new and refurbished courthouses will be delivered in regional cities and county towns including Galway, Wicklow, Portlaoise, Tralee and Roscommon and provincial locations such as a Dungloe and Tuam. I very much look forward to these further Courts Service projects.”
The building housing the Mullingar Courthouse is of national significance and is an important architectural, historical and social heritage of Mullingar. Construction of the original courthouse was completed in 1829 at a cost of £6,700 and it survived the ‘big wind’ of January 1839, although badly damaged. The courthouse has had a rich history of uses. In addition to being used as a Court, it held a cattle show in 1843, and was used for orchestral concerts in 1852. The building was also used as a polling station and election rallies were held outside the building. It is also interesting to note that James Joyce visited the courthouse in 1900 while his father was updating the electoral rolls. In addition, when the first Gardaí arrived in Mullingar in 1922 they were housed in the courthouse.
Minister Flanagan added: “After such a variety of uses I am glad that Mullingar courthouse has been brought back to its original purpose to serve us as a courthouse while contributing to the ongoing regeneration and evolution of the town. Courthouses certainly do serve us all. They may not be places the average person visits unless they need or have to, but they represent so much. In any community, they are the physical manifestation of the rule of law, reminding us that we live in a full and free democracy with independent administration of justice at the very heart of it.”
Note for editors:
The new courthouse has a floor area of close to 3,257m2. The capital cost was c.€14m. Facilities include three courtrooms and a new public office. The family law courtroom is on a new floor which did not exist in the original courthouse. User facilities include a vulnerable witness suite, victim support room, legal practitioners room, enhanced custody facilities, jury rooms, consultation rooms and other support facilities. The courtrooms are all accessible. All circulation routes within the building – public, staff/judiciary, custody and jury - are fully accessible.
Courts PPP bundle
In July 2012, the Government announced a €2.25bn infrastructure stimulus programme which included the construction or extension/refurbishment of seven courthouses (called the ‘Courts PPP Bundle’). In terms of scale, the Courts PPP Bundle is the largest capital building project ever undertaken by the Courts Service, delivering a total of 31 courtrooms and 36,000 m2 of accommodation nationwide.