A TD has called on the Gardaí and Prison service to come up with a plan to ensure shoppers feel safe in Portlaoise on the days of court sittings.
Charlie Flanagan TD made the call at a recent Laois Joint Polcing committee where Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald called for the court to be moved altogether.
Dep Flanagan said people are in fear of their safety.
“Garda vans and prison vans outside the courthouse are acting as a deterrant to shoppers. I have raised this before and it still has not been resolved. There should be a parking area in Church Street.
“I still find it totally unacceptable that a proper relationship cannot be arranged between the Gardaí and Prison Service. People are shopping in fear of their own safety,” he said.
Distress is being caused to shoppers agreed Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald.
“The courthouse shouldn’t be there at all. It is causing a lot of distress to shoppers and business people, with all the vans and people gathered outside. This has been an issue for a long time, and people are getting more annoyed. It is difficult to patrol, sometimes there are gangs on the street,” she told the acting Chief Superintendent for Laois, Michael Byrnes,
Cllr Fitzgerald called for the courthouse to be moved.
“There is a lot of room on the Dublin road. I would like to see a place in the prison site for it. I couldn’t see how the cost would be huge,” she said, adding that it would save money in transporting prisoners to court.
Acting Chief Supt Burns, who is stationed in Kildare, said he was unaware of the problem.
“It’s news to me. I will take on board doing something to address the vans, disturbances aren’t a good advertisement. I can’t do anything about the location of the courthouse. Maybe it is something we can address in time,” he said.
District Court Judge Catherine Staines recently highlighted the issue in court.
“I’m not keeping prisoners here all day. It’s just not acceptable to have prison vans parked outside all day,” she told the court.
Judge Staines said it was nto acceptable to have many prisioners in custody in the confines of the court.