The Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has said that she hopes to see construction of a new family-court complex at Hammond Lane in Dublin begin in 2023.
“I hope that, come 2023, we’ll see ground broken, and that this can then be opened by 2026 at the latest,” the minister told the Law Society Family and Child Law Conference last week.
Last year, she announced additional funds to begin preparatory work on the complex. The Courts Service’s annual report earlier this year said that initial work on the project had begun.
‘Ambitious’ on bill
The minister added that she hoped to have the Family Court Bill ready in early 2022, and to progress it through the Oireachtas next year. While acknowledging that this target was ambitious, she also said that such legislation was “long overdue”.
The Government approved the drafting of the bill in September last year when the general scheme was published.
Dr Geoffrey Shannon (pictured), who chaired the sub-committee of the Law Society’s Family and Child Law Committee that made a submission on the bill, said that the legislation had been nearly two decades in the waiting, describing it as “fantastic” to see it finally become a reality.
Minister McEntee also stressed that, while work on the bill continued, the Department of Justice was also looking at how to support victims of domestic and sexual violence.
“What has become so clear to me, in my discussions with victims and representative groups and the legal profession, is that there is so often a crossover where you have a criminal trial taking place, and also a family-law matter being heard in the courts,” she said.
The minister added that this posed challenges, and led to “significant difficulties”, particularly for victims of domestic and sexual violence.
Minister McEntee also praised the Law Society, and the wider legal system, for the work it had continued to do during the pandemic.
“You have prioritised the most vulnerable people in our society – be it the victims of domestic or sexual violence, be it the challenging family scenarios that have arisen – the emergency situations,” she said.