THE €35 million development of the Anglesea Street courthouse will be brought to the attention of the Public Accounts Committee for investigation.
Cork solicitor and Fianna Fáil county councillor Daithí Ó Donnabháin is writing to the chairman of the PAC, John McGuinness, asking him to investigate why the new building was developed.
The six-court building will be used solely for criminal cases, with all civil and family law cases being heard in the Cork Courthouse on Washington Street.
Cllr Ó Donnabháin said that there are just two of the six courthouses in the new building in use at present and added that courts 1 and 2 in the Washington Street complex are too intimidating to be used for family law and civil cases. He added that they were only suitable for criminal cases as they have the traditional docks and jury box.
He added that the development on Anglesea Street now means there are 13 courtrooms in Cork city — with only a small number of them being used at a time.
Cllr Ó Donnabháin said: “When it is public money that is involved, I cannot justify this. There are schools which need extensions, new schools need to be built, people need more houses.” He questioned why €35 million had been spent on the development when there were already seven courts in the Washington Street facility, and raised concerns that a decision would be made by the Courts Service in the future to move court sittings from around Cork county into the Anglesea Street development.
A spokesman for the Courts Service said that almost 26,000 criminal, civil and family law matters were heard at the district court in Cork last year.
He added that the Circuit Court dealt with civil cases and State appeals at eight venues around the county, with family and criminal matters dealt with in Cork City — totalling 4,000 matters in 2017.
He added: “In addition, the High Court sits in Cork for up to 16 weeks per year dealing with both Personal Injury cases and non-Jury matters. The Central Criminal Court also sits in Cork, including for the coming months of June and July. The provision of the new courthouse in Anglesea Street will facilitate the continued delivery of court sittings in Cork as well as adding capacity to allow for additional sittings across the different jurisdictions. It will also provide courtroom capacity to facilitate new business such as the Court of Criminal Appeal to sit in Cork as required.” He stressed that there are no plans to move cases from district courts across Cork county to the city complex.