Brian O’Shea TD, Labour Party spokesperson on Defence and the Irish language, has pledged to campaign for an upgrading of court facilities in Waterford to bring the regional capital into line with other provincial cities in Ireland.
Deputy O’Shea has learned that a decision is about to be made by the Buildings Committee of the Courts Service, which decides on court building projects, and he said it was it was imperative that Waterford was a top priority location.
“I understand that Waterford City needs seven courtrooms to properly facilitate the administration of justice here,” he said. “Currently, we have just two courtrooms and this leads to serious delays and bottlenecks when, for instance, the High Court sits here on circuit and occupies both courtrooms for two weeks, during which the District Court’s operations are disrupted.
“The Central Criminal Court has also indicated that Waterford is a suitable venue for sittings on an occasional basis as has happened in Limerick and Galway, but due to the chronic shortage of facilities this has not been possible. These trials can take anything from one to eight weeks but because we have no available courtroom, these cases continue to be heard in Dublin. In the simplest terms, this means there is a loss of business to Waterford and a cost to the State and to all parties involved in travelling to Dublin.
“Waterford as a Gateway City has been overtaken in terms of court facilities by locations which have been designated ‘hubs’ and other provincial towns, such as Wexford and Kilkenny, Clonmel, Portlaoise, Naas and Bray all have more facilities than Waterford. In fact, six new courtrooms are now under construction in Kilkenny. This is not in any way to begrudge Kilkenny what it has got but it underlines how Waterford is falling behind in so many areas of national planning.
“The President of the Circuit Court has received a letter from the Director of Public Prosecutions which identifies Waterford, in particular as a black spot,” said Deputy O’Shea.
The Tramore-based Deputy is pursuing these matters with the Courts Services as he is deeply concerned that the administration of justice in the Waterford constituency is currently experiencing a number of severe difficulties.