The minister praised the improvements, pointing out that a court is a place where life changing decisions can occur around complex and sensitive issues that affect people’s lives.
“Whether a person comes here to work, to seek vindication, to face justice, or as a jury member to pass judgment, everyone will now enter a courthouse that integrates the old and the new, that is open and approachable, and that inspires confidence without being intimidating,” he said.
209 sitting days
Over 7,500 matters were dealt with by the District Court in Waterford across 209 sitting days in 2016.
Another 634 matters over 150 days were disposed of by Circuit Court sittings in Waterford and Dungarvan.
Waterford is the fifth new or refurbished courthouse to be opened by the minister in recent months, following Drogheda, Letterkenny, Wexford and Limerick – all part of a €2.25 billion project delivering 31 courtrooms and 36,000 square metres of accommodation nationwide.
Substantial refurbishments and extensions in Cork and Mullingar courthouses are also scheduled for completion later this year.
Legal reform a priority
At the opening, the minister said that legal reform is a Government priority and that the new Court of Appeal, the Legal Services Regulatory Authority, and the new Office of the Legal Costs Adjudicator will be joined by the establishment of a dedicated family court.
Chief Justice Frank Clarke, who opened the building, said the new seat of justice “reflects a relationship between old and new that is less one of contrast, but more one of continuity; finding a successful balance between respecting context and identifying the new as new.
'It is a positive addition to the civic architecture in the historic heart of Waterford
The improved space and light within the building, including a new round hall in the centre of the building, will help create an atmosphere beneficial to all who have business in the courts in Waterford”.
The courthouse will routinely accommodate hearings of the Circuit and District Courts, the High Court on circuit, and may also be used by the Central Criminal Court when needed.