The closure of Roscrea Courthouse was “repugnant “ and a “failure of the democratic system to protect the rights of individuals to have the law dealt with in their local commumnity”, solicitor Brendan Hyland told the final sitting of Roscrea Court last Thursday, December 15.
Criminal sittings finished on December 1. The court traditionally dealt with family law on the third Thursday of each month, but over the years, it has also been used to hear some criminal cases.
“Some 90 years after our so-called independence the people who fought for that would be horrified to see the basic mechanism of democracy being removed.
“A creaking bureaucracy is invading our democracy. This is only the tip of the iceberg of what is happening in society. Do we want to give in to that bureaucracy?” he said.
Mr Hyland, who spoke before the court started, said that the solicitors did not accept the response received from the Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter, who he accused of “hiding behind bureaucracy” by saying that the Courts Service was an independent body.
“Who is running the country?” he asked.
The Roscrea-based solicitor said it was a sad occasion for the people of Roscrea and he wanted to express the sadness of the community at the courthouse’s closure.
An essential facility of democracy was being removed to another area, said Mr Hyland.
“Representations have been made. We have fought our best to keep this for the people of Roscrea,” he said.
Solicitor Michael Breen also described the occasion as a sad day for Roscrea, and pointed out that North Tipperary County Council had spent E40,000 on the building earlier this year.
“It could cost E5,000 to maintain this building each year and that cost will have to be borne by the taxpayer,” said Mr Breen.
He recalled the judges who had sat in the court, from Judge Meagher, the first Free State judge, through to Judge Elizabeth MacGrath, and recalled that Judge MacGrath’s father had also sat in Roscrea.
Mr Breen paid tribute to the court clerks and the Gardai, who had “made this court work with compassion”.
He also recalled the many reporters who had attended from the local newspapers.
Local Garda inspector Pat O’Connor said it was also a sad day for the Gardai, who will “now have to trundle over the Nenagh”.
“It will be a huge headache to have to move our resources to Nenagh,” he said, and warned that the Gardai would now have to find ways of keeping a presence in the town while also having to attend court in Nenagh.
“This was done by bureaucracy and we had nothing to do with it,” he said.
Chief court clerk Martin Hanton thanked the Gardai and solicitors for their co-operation down the years.
Judge Elizabeth MacGrath described it as a “sad and historic sitting.”
Borisokane Courthouse will close this week and its sittings will be transferred to Nenagh.