Roscommon politicians were quick out of the blocks in their response to the Roscommon People’s exclusive report last Thursday on the uncertain future facing court services in Roscommon Town.
Fine Gael Senator Maura Hopkins made it her business to meet Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan that morning.
At that meeting, Senator Hopkins emphasised to Minister Flanagan that it would not be acceptable for the Courts Service to move out of Roscommon Town.
“Minister Flanagan informed me that he had been in contact with the Courts Service on Thursday morning and had advised the Courts Service that an alternative venue should be secured in Roscommon Town immediately in order to allow for continuation of court sittings in the town”.
Accepting that the mooted refurbishment works will take a number of years to complete – “a minimum of five years” – Senator Hopkins said that she asked Minister Flanagan to explore the possibility of completing interim works in order to facilitate safe access to Roscommon Courthouse and permit court sittings while the larger refurbishment works are planned.
Independent TD Denis Naughten told Shannonside Radio that he also met with Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan on Thursday morning, when the story broke. Deputy Naughten said that Minister Flanagan had made direct contact with the Courts Service and expressed his (Minister Flanagan’s) strong preference that the courts would be retained in Roscommon Town while the refurbishment work is ongoing.
Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice said that court sittings must be retained in Roscommon town over the period (expected to be many years’) of refurbishment work.
In a statement issued to the Roscommon People, Deputy Fitzmaurice said: “There are plenty of suitable buildings around the town of Roscommon which could easily accommodate court sittings.
“The Courts Service must look at renting an alternative building while the restoration works are completed.
“The court sittings must continue to be held in the town. If they are moved to a neighbouring town like Carrick-on-Shannon or Ballinasloe, it would be a big loss to local businesses – such as restaurants and shops.
“It would also be hugely inconvenient for solicitors practising in the town of Roscommon and people in the area who may have to attend a court date”.
Deputy Fitzmaurice said that he had contacted the Courts Service directly to voice his support for the court sittings remaining in Roscommon town.