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Panic button at judges’ fingertips as court security to be fortified

17 Jan 2020 / courts Print

Panic button for judges as court security to be fortified

Panic buttons are to be installed in courts nationwide in a bid to improve security for judges, staff and court users.

The move by the Courts Service comes in response to several security alerts in recent years including a major incident just before Christmas 2018, in which a disgruntled, estranged husband threatened to detonate a bomb in the court where his ex-wife was attending proceedings.



Judge Susan Ryan had been presiding over a case at a family law court at Phoenix House, Smithfield, involving the man’s ex-wife, when he entered wearing what appeared to be an explosive device, and reached into a bag and took out what appeared to be a handgun.

Controlled explosion

The Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team carried out a controlled explosion on the suspect device and the firearm the suspect was carrying turned out to be an imitation.

Judge Susan Ryan, who retired last week, was praised for her calm handling of the situation at the Smithfield family law court sitting on 22 December 2018.


Legal professionals including barristers have also been subject to attacks, and a District Court judge was assaulted during a family law sitting in 2015.

Courts Service chief executive Angela Denning told the Irish Independent this morning (Friday. 17 January) that she wants to strengthen security in court buildings with the installation of ‘red-button’ panic alerts.

Court security matters have been discussed at length with Garda Commissioner Drew Harris this week.

Security design

Security concerns have also been to the forefront in the design of new and refurbished court buildings, which have been completed in recent years.

Denning also said that the Department of Justice has allocated the sum of €80 million for the new family law complex at the Hammond Lane site in Dublin 7.

However, the Courts Service believes that this sum is inadequate to deal with the needs of projected population growth in the capital.

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