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Dublin: 7 °C Wednesday 1 April, 2020

Waterford's new €25.9m courthouse opened this week - take a look

It’s the fifth courthouse to be opened recently as part of a multi-million government programme.

6587_8806 Source: Peter Moloney

WATERFORD’S NEW COURTHOUSE opened this week after years of refurbishment and extensions worth around €25.9 million.

The new courthouse has a floor area of over 6,400 square metres, and the building’s facilities include six courtrooms and a new public office.

User facilities include a vulnerable witness suite, victim support room, legal practitioners room, enhanced custody facilities, jury reception room, consultation rooms and other support facilities.

6587_8917 Source: Peter Moloney

The courtrooms are all accessible off a new central atrium – echoing the round hall in the Four Courts. All circulation routes within the building – public, staff/judiciary, custody and jury are fully accessible.

6587_8870 Source: Peter Moloney

The refurbished building is based on the original courthouse, which dates back to 1849 when it was designed by J B Keane.

During construction, the remains of an early medieval graveyard were discovered on the former fire station site to the rear of the courthouse building. It appears to be associated with St Catherine’s Abbey – a 12th century settlement which is believed to have been located on what is now Catherine Street.

An extensive archaeological excavation of this area – which uncovered a number of graves – was undertaken during construction.

6587_8800 Source: Peter Moloney

Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan officially opened the refurbished Waterford Courthouse on Monday.

At the opening, he said that the new extension would make a huge difference to those who use it.

“The new block is 6000 square metres, compared to the old courthouse which was just over 1,000 and there will now be 6 courtrooms, compared to the previous 2.

So whether a person comes here to work, to seek vindication, to face justice, or as a jury member to pass judgement, everyone will now enter a courthouse which integrates the old and the new, which is open and approachable, and which inspires confidence without being intimidating.

6587_8855 Source: Peter Moloney

In 2016 alone, over 7,500 matters were dealt with by the District Court in Waterford across 209 sitting days.

Another 634 matters, over 150 days, were disposed of by the Circuit Court sitting in Waterford and Dungarvan.

Particular care has been taken in the project to provide appropriate facilities for all those who must attend the Court including victims and vulnerable witnesses.

6587_8896 Source: Peter Moloney

The Minister added that a courthouse “can be intimidating” and said that the changes were important to help lessen that somehow.

“The new courthouse has a vulnerable witness suite, a victim support room, a legal practitioners’ room, as well as consultation rooms, a jury reception room, enhanced custody facilities and other support facilities.”

Waterford is the fifth new or refurbished courthouse to be opened in recent months following Drogheda, Letterkenny, Wexford and Limerick.

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