Wednesday 21 August 2019

Money is now there, but residents are still against courthouse plans

FOLLOWING the announcement last week that the building of a new courthouse at the site of the old civic offices in Wygram was given the goahead, a number of residents have reacted with anger at the proposed site of the building.

Residents of Belvedere Road, Davitt Road and surrounding areas have been lobbying councillors since the site was first mooted, but now it looks like the building of the new courthouse will go ahead regardless. Cllr Fergie Kehoe is one of the councillors who has voiced the concerns of the residents at council meetings and believes that he is not the only one in the council chambers who believes that the proposed site is not suitable for the courthouse.

'I've met with the residents on a few occasions,' Cllr Kehoe said.

' They've lobbied a number of councillors stating that the courthouse shouldn't go ahead. I think really the OPW should have met with the residents in the beginning to discuss an outcome that would suit everyone. It's going to be a big three-story building and it's in an area where there are a lot of schools and housing estates. I think the residents are extremely upset that this decision is being imposed upon them.'

Bernie Lloyd, PRO of the Davitt Road North-Windmill residents' groups, said: 'Our views have not changed regarding the proposed courthouse at the old Municipal Buildings. We are still pursuing our agenda. A meeting to update the residents on the current position will take place in the near future.'

While Cllr Fergie Kehoe agrees with the residents that the proposed site for the new court in unsuitable, he is quick to stress that both he and the residents in the Wygram area don't object to a courthouse being built somewhere else. 'I personally believe that the courthouse shouldn't go where it's going,' Cllr Kehoe said. ' There are more suitable sites on the outskirts of town that would be much more appropriate. I think we're all in favour of a new courthouse, just not the location. Firstly, the suggested structure doesn't fit in with the rest of the buildings in the area. Then if you look at courthouses around the country, parking is always an issue.'

Cllr Kehoe also went on to state that he believes that the council was misled when it voted to sell the old municipal buildings. 'On the night the council voted to sell the building for €3m, it was kind of hoodwinked into it,' Cllr Kehoe said. 'I think the majority of councillors believed that the court service would be family law or something, not take in all four courts.'

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