Portlaoise Town Council are ready to “plead” with Minister Alan Shatter to finally secure a new location for the courthouse currently situated on the town’s Main Street.
“It’s outlived its stay there,” declared town mayor, Cllr Willie Aird, at last week’s monthly meeting of Portlaoise Town Council in County Hall. “We have to plead with the Minister, he has to do something.”
Cllr Aird had put forward a motion for the town council to write to the minister to ask for an update on the provision of alternative accommodation for Portlaoise Court.
Cllr Aird said that the courthouse’s current location is “not fair” on the public, business people, and any children who may witness the goings on outside the building when the court is in session. He said the problem was evident any day the court was sitting. He also said there was no room on the street to cater for garda and prison vehicles parking there.
“The courts have got too busy. People are being sentenced there and then taken away, so many convictions are being made - and rightly so,” he added.
Cllr Caroline Dwane remarked that she had noticed a lot more sittings of the court recently.
“There have been several incidents around the prison vans on the street, and it can be very disturbing for people,” she said.
Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald suggested moving the courthouse to a site on the Dublin Road adjacent to the two prisons, which “in the long run would save money”.
She pointed out that there is a court in Cloverhill Prison, so the same could be set up here in Portlaoise.
“The land is there on the Dublin Road, that would save money on escorts,” she said. “We should write to the minister with that suggestion.”
“The prison grounds would be ideal,” agreed Cllr Kathleen O’Brien.
The courthouse has been an ongoing source of frustration locally. Portlaoise’s business people have come close to demanding a withdrawal of the courthouse from the town’s centre because of the damage it is doing to the town.