Kerry County Council is to vote tomorrow on the sale of a council-owned site to the Courts Service to allow a new county courthouse to be built.
Around €20 million will be invested by the Courts Service in a new complex if councillors vote in favour of the proposal by council management.
Kerry Law Society has made a public appeal to all 33 councillors to back the sale of the 0.202 hectares at the Island of Geese site, a former bacon factory, given to the council by Kerry Group.
The Ashe Street courthouse dates from the 1830s and no longer hosts major trials. It has no family-law or other modern facilities.
Courts’ offices have already moved from the building and much court business now takes place outside the county in Limerick and Cork.
The vote is before a full council meeting.
“My understanding is that the vote is going to be very tight,” said John Galvin of the Kerry Law Society this morning.
Galvin said that a 21st-century court building is necessary so that all of the various courts can sit in Tralee and deal with the legal needs of the people of Kerry.
“It’s regrettable that the Courts Service cannot modernise the existing building, Galvin said this morning.
“If they can’t modernise, we need a modern building for the future,” he added.
“A new complex will copper fasten that Kerry retains all of its court functions for the future.”
Debate over the preferred location as well as the argument for retaining the existing imperial-style courthouse has delayed redevelopment plans.
Many Kerry Law Society members have expressed their attachment to the existing building, said solicitor Canice Walsh.
"We fear that the consequences of a vote against will be an unmitigated disaster for the county as a whole,” Walsh said.
"We accept that some are wholly opposed to any proposal other than a development of the Ashe Street complex.
However, all those who are familiar with the existing building are aware that it is wholly and utterly inadequate. Retaining it in its current condition is not a runner," said Walsh.