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07 Aug 2022

Portlaoise courthouse affecting town's image says councillors

Portlaoise courthouse affecting town's image says councillors

Portlaoise courthouse affecting town's image say councillors

Another call has been made by Portlaoise councillors to get the Laois courthouse off Main Street into a new building that is only at planning stage by the Courts Service.

While the county town is to get a €1million facelift on its laneways, lighting, street furniture landscaping and signage in 2021, the courthouse will remain operating in the town centre for several more years.

The building was described as an “disgrace” at the Portlaoise Municipal District meeting this November.

Cllr Thomasina Connell had tabled a motion asking for an update on the ‘Portlaoise, a Destination Town’ plan and the Active Travel measures, set to cost over €1 million.

Cllr Connell welcomed the plans and said Portlaoise must be viewed as a tourist destination.

“We’ll all be keen to travel when the pandemic is under control,” she said.

However Cllr Noel Tuohy said the courthouse site would hold back Portlaoise.

“In order for the town to progress, we need the closure of the courthouse. It is one of our finest buildings yet people are loitering and spitting on the street,” he said.

Cllr Connell agreed.

“People are afraid to walk up the town, it’s a disgrace,” she said. She noted that a new courthouse is promised for two years time.

“It’s going on way too long,” she said.

The courthouse became busier in recent years but this resulted in anti-social behaviour spilling onto Main Street, deterring shoppers who feel intimidated and so affecting trade.

With no parking there, Garda and prison vehicles must park on the street, often causing traffic jams. The situation worsened during Covid with further restrictions on numbers waiting inside the courthouse.

The Courts Service has bought a 2 acre site off the new Southern Relief Road for a new 5000sq metre courthouse to be built among a bundle of projects by the Court Service, depending on Government funding.

On the upgrade of Portlaoise next year, Portlaoise Town manager Simon Walton outlined that Fáilte Ireland is giving €500,000 towards enhancing the Main Street and Bull Lane, Peppers Lane and Lyster Lane.

There will be smarter travel street furniture, landscape works, interpretation signs for the Fort Protector and town centre direction signs.

Laois County Council also won a grant of €375,000 from the July Stimulus Package to support the work. The council will add another €175,000 from their own budget.

“The majority of the measures will be introduced In the first half of 2021,” Mr Walton said.

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