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Gardaí arrest man armed with 'imitation firearm' and suspect device at Family Courts in Dublin

A controlled explosion was carried out on the suspect device.

Updated Dec 20th 2018, 6:05 PM

A MAN HAS been arrested after producing what appeared to be an imitation firearm and a suspect device at the Family Courts in Dublin this morning.
Gardaí remain at the scene in Smithfield and the building remained closed as on 4pm this afternoon when a search was ongoing.

The courts building was evacuated and the area surrounding it cordoned off. Luas services were disrupted as a result. 

The Army Bomb Disposal Team carried out a controlled explosion on the suspicious device produced in the court. The device has now been removed from the scene.

The is currently detained at Bridewell Garda Station in Dublin and a garda investigation is ongoing.

Gardaí responded to the incident at about 11.30am this morning after reports that a man with a gun was in the court building and was reported to be holding a judge hostage.

The area was immediately declared a crime scene and taped off while gardaí approached and entered the building. They subsequently disarmed and arrested the man in question.

All staff, judges and members of the public left the building safely during the evacuation.

Circuit Court President Mr Raymond Groarke in a statement following the release of the judge:

This is a dreadful experience by someone attending to her work conscientiously and carefully as she does every day.  The judges of the court are grateful and delighted that Judge (Susan) Ryan has been safely extricated by gardaí.

Hostage

Mr Justice Groarke said that he was hearing a case just minutes before noon when he was informed a judge in the family law courts was being held hostage by a suspected gunman, a court reporter said. 

It is understood that the man had a case before the courts today.

The Family Court deals with sensitive and personal matters, including (but not limited to) divorce, custody, child maintenance, domestic violence and children in state care.

A Courts Service spokesperson said that the organisation is “very concerned at the nature of this incident” and will continue to review security arrangements at the court, which does not have the scanners that are employed at other courts.

“This incident highlights the need to constantly keep courthouse security under review – in terms of both a garda presence and appropriate security at each court sitting,” the spokesperson said. 

They added that it is hoped that family law sittings will have increased security a new planned facility on nearby Hammond Street

When family law sittings are centralised in the planned Hammond Lane Family Law complex, airport style security will be in place. This level of security has been operational in the Four Courts and the Criminal Courts of Justice for over a decade.

“Such security measures limit the opportunity for incidents such as the one this morning”.

The Bar Council of Ireland has however called today’s incident “shocking” and says it has previously raised safety issues with the Courts Service:

Issues of safety and security of barristers, and all those working in the Courts system, are an absolute priority for the Bar and these matters have previously been raised with the Courts Service. 

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said that he was thankful nobody was injured and thanked gardaí for their actions.

“While thankful that nobody involved was injured, I am nonetheless conscious of the impact on the judge, court personnel and all others who were in the court at the time,” the minister said.

With reporting by Ray Managh, Sean Murray, Garreth MacNamee, Aoife Barry, and Nicky Ryan.

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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