Tipperary is the only county in Ireland to have been singled out for review of Court operations, staffing and services by the Courts Service, according to a spokesperson from the Tipperary Solicitors Bar Association (TSBA).
In September 2013, Tipperary suffered the loss of its Probate Service, which operated from Clonmel. This service dealt with the administration of wills and estates.
At that time, the TSBA called on the Courts Service to reopen the Probate Service. The Courts Service indicated that they were reviewing all services in the Clonmel office and required time to carry out the review before reopening the Probate Office. The TSBA understand that this review was completed in mid-2014. It was expected that the Probate Office would then reopen but this did not happen.
Instead, the Courts Service announced that all court services and operations in Tipperary would be reviewed. The TSBA and other interested groups and court users were requested to make submissions in respect of the review. This review has caused alarm to all users. The TSBA notified its concerns to interested groups, court users and political representatives, including Ministers, TDs and councillors.
The TSBA sought and obtained copies of the Court Service Review documentation. It was clear from that that the decision had already been made by the Building Committee of the Courts Service to shut court sittings in Carrick-on Suir and Tipperary Town and to transfer the sittings to Clonmel and Thurles respectively.
The staffing at Nenagh Courthouse was also reviewed and a final decision has been deferred as to whether there should be any staff there, leading to the downgrading of the courthouse.
Politicians, including Ministers from the locality, had been requested to enquire into the review. The only assurances received by the TSBA was that the courthouse in Nenagh would not be closed. No indication had been given of proposed closures of court sittings in Carrick-on-Suir or Tipperary Town.
The TSBA is now preparing a detailed submission for the Courts Service on the effect the closures of court sittings in Carrick-on-Suir and Tipperary Town would have. The risk to access to local justice for the people of Tipperary is very real. The TSBA have sought and obtained full support from the Law Society of Ireland, who have urged the Courts Service to end all future court and Courts Service closures