Law Society welcomes announcement to preserve access to justice

The Law Society of Ireland has welcomed the announcement that the proposed closure of court venues in Swords, Dun Laoghaire, Balbriggan and Tallaght will not go ahead.

“We are delighted that sense has prevailed in this instance. We argued in our submission to the Courts Service on the proposals that closing these courthouses would actually increase costs to the Government as a whole,” said Ken Murphy, Director General of the Law Society of Ireland.

“Every time a local courthouse closes there are additional costs and burdens placed on the users of the courts. Social workers, HSE employees and local authority staff must suspend their duties to travel great distances to appear in court. Guards are taken off their local streets to travel to court venues several towns away. Victims of crime, witnesses doing their civic duty and anyone exercising their rights to justice also bear additional expense and burden.”

“With this announcement justice in Dublin has been saved but now we must turn our attention to protecting access to justice in rural areas,” said Mr Murphy.

“We know there are proposals to close other court venues including the Tipperary courthouse and the Skibbereen court and we are concerned that more proposals for closures around the country may emerge. The rationalisation of our Courts Service has gone beyond the rational. The Law Society is calling for an end to all court closures.”

“We are concerned about the damage to the justice system in Ireland that has already taken place. Since 2008 seventy-seven court venues have closed. In Dublin the public has already lost the Rathfarnham, Kilmainham and Dundrum courts.”

“The proposals that have been rejected would have made an unprecedented impact to access to justice in Dublin.   There would have been no court venue between Bray and the River Liffey - 866,000 people are in this area. Also, if these changes had gone ahead all parties to road traffic cases in Dublin city and county would have been forced to travel to one court venue in Blanchardstown.”

“The Courts Service budget has been slashed by 40% and we accept that all public services are facing budgetary constraints. However, as in the case of the proposed Dublin closures, we must not be short sighted and actually increase our costs while diminishing the justice service for citizens.”

View the Law Society submission on the Reorganisation of Dublin District Courts.