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Council have no plans for Westport courthouse

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STILL LYING IDLE Westport Courthouse.


Anton McNulty

DOUBTS have been raised about the future viability of the old Westport courthouse building after a senior council official admitted they have no requirement for it.
The Westport Courthouse, which was closed by the Court Service in 2013, and was taken over by Mayo County Council after ownership was transferred from the Court Services in early 2021.
The building is located at the corner of Castlebar Street and Distillery Street and is a protected building dating back to the 19th century.
Following the council take over last year, local councillors expressed hope its redevelopment would rejuvenate this area of Westport.
However the building remains empty and Catherine McConnell, Director of Services with Mayo County Council cast doubt over its future after confirming they only took ownership because nobody else wanted it.
“It is a very expensive building and we do not have any income stream or specific requirement for it. It was transferred to us because no other public body would put up their hands to take it on board,” she said.
Ms McConnell made the comment after she was asked about its status at the recently monthly meeting of the Westport/Belmulllet Municipal District.
Independent Westport-based councillor Christy Hyland had initially expressed concern by the lack of progress on its development.
“We have the convent site derelict and now a courthouse. Are we going to be looking at the court house as another derelict site?” he asked.

Convent site
Ms McConnell had better news regarding the development of the convent site in Westport saying that the development was on schedule.
“The convent site application was made in 2020 and funding announced in 2021 but we did not receive the funding letter until mid September 2021. At this point in time we are appointing the design team and we are well within the time frame set out for that project. We believe it will be a hugely successful project with €9 million in funding and I would not like anyone to throw a shadow or doubt on the massive achievement or the impact it will have on the town going forward,” she said.
The proposed works for the convent site on Altamont Street will include the restoration, reuse and extension of the former national school into a library and multi-use community facility. This development will be part one of a multi-stage regeneration of that entire site with proposals to develop accommodation for elderly people as well as affordable housing.