CAMPAIGN OVER Cllr Brendan Mulroy, pictured with Fianna Fáil leader Michéal Martin in 2015, at Westport Courthouse, has excepted that the building will no longer be used for court sittings.
The Court Service has confirmed that it has no intention of re-opening the Westport Courthouse and is looking for submissions on what to do with it.
The courthouse in Westport has been closed since 2013 and all court hearings for the Westport district have since been heard in Castlebar Courthouse. There has been calls by both the legal profession and local public representatives to reopen the courthouse but the Court Service confirmed that that is no longer an option.
Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council, Cllr Blackie Gavin, told yesterday’s monthly meeting of the Council that he received a letter from the regional officer of the Court Service seeking submissions from the Council on plans they may have for the building.
“I got a letter about a week ago from Brendan McDonnell, who is the regional officer about the courthouse. They [Court Service] are looking for submissions from this Council by the end of September. I would hope Westport would send in a submission,” Cllr Gavin told the meeting.
‘Battle is lost’
Westport-based councillor Brendan Mulroy, who had campaigned for the courthouse to be re-opened, said he was an eternal optimist but he knew when ‘the battle is lost’. He said the closure of the courthouse will be a big blow to the town but hoped Mayo County Council will take it over and it will be used by the community.
“It has become quite evident from the review by the Court Service that the Westport Courthouse will not be re-opened as a courthouse. That in itself is a sad day for Westport, everyone knows the benefit of having a courthouse in your town. I am led to believe that Mayo County Council are talking to the Court Service in relation to overtaking the courthouse. Now that the battle is lost my hope is Mayo County Council will now take it over. There are a number of different groups looking for a home,” he said.
The closure of the iconic courthouse building, located on the corner of Distillery Road and Castlebar Street, was brought about due to ‘serious health and safety risks posing an immediate danger to judges, staff, the public and others using the building’.
The Court Service stated in 2013 that it had no option but to temporarily close the building on health and safety grounds but added that the closure was ‘hopefully a short term measure and not an indication of any future intention as regards the future use of Westport as a court venue’.
The closure was supposed to last only five months but since its closure no works have been carried out. There are currently only four courthouses in operation in Mayo. They are located in Castlebar, Ballina, Belmullet and Achill.