Waterford’s New Seat of Justice Opened

€26m refurbishment and extension unveiled

WATERFORD’S refurbished and extended Courthouse has been officially opened.
Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan TD, officially opened the new look Waterford Courthouse yesterday (Monday).
The €26m project incorporates parts of the original courthouse which dates back to 1849 when it was designed by J B Keane.
Speaking at the opening, Minister Flanagan said the new extension to Waterford Courthouse is going to make a huge difference to those who use it.
“The new block is 6000 square metres, compared to the old courthouse’s size of just over 1000, and there will now be six courtrooms, compared to the previous two,” he explained.

Waterford Courthouse: Photo by Noel Browne

Waterford Courthouse: Photo by Noel Browne

“So whether a person comes here to work; to seek vindication; to face justice; or as a jury member to pass judgement, everyone will now enter a courthouse which integrates the old and the new, which is open and approachable, and which inspires confidence without being intimidating.”
He described a courthouse as “a place where life-changing decisions can occur”.
“A lot of cases come before the Court each year, cases which represent, for a lot of the people involved, stress,” he said.
“It’s a place where complex and sensitive issues that affect people’s lives are dealt with. It can be intimidating and that’s why it is so good to see the additions here. The new Courthouse has a vulnerable witness suite, a victim support room, a legal practitioners’ room, as well as consultation rooms, a jury reception room, enhanced custody facilities and other support facilities.”

Waterford is the fifth new or refurbished courthouse to be opened by the Minister in recent months following Drogheda, Letterkenny, Wexford and Limerick.
The Minister said: “Waterford Courthouse is part of a €2.25bn infrastructure stimulus programme which included the construction or extension/refurbishment of seven courthouses under the ‘Courts PPP Bundle’. In terms of scale, the Courts PPP Bundle is the largest capital building project ever undertaken by the Courts Service, delivering a total of 31 courtrooms and 36,000 m2 of accommodation nationwide. I hope later this year, Mr Justice Clarke and I will be presiding over the completion of another two substantial refurbishments and extensions in Cork and Mullingar”
The official opening was also attended by the Chief Justice of Ireland Mr Frank Clarke, Senator Paudie Coffey, local Councillors, members of An Garda Síochána and many from the legal profession.

“The site and the existing historic buildings on it presented challenges to the architects and builders, but this fine new building is a very successful solution to providing much needed additional court facilities in the city,” said Mr Justice Clarke.
He added: “It is a positive addition to the civic architecture in the historic heart of Waterford City. 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.”
During construction, the remains of an early medieval graveyard were discovered on the former fire station site to the rear of the courthouse building.
It appears to be associated with St. Catherine’s Abbey – a 12th century settlement which is believed to have been located on what is now Catherine Street.
An extensive archaeological excavation of this area – which uncovered a number of graves – was undertaken during construction.

In 2016 alone, over 7,500 matters were dealt with by the District Court in Waterford across 209 sitting days. Another 634 matters, over 150 days, were disposed of by the Circuit Court sitting in Waterford and Dungarvan. Particular care has been taken in the project to provide appropriate facilities for all those who must attend the Court including victims and vulnerable witnesses.

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