Friday, 30 April 2021
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
I raise two justice-related issues. First, I welcome the publication yesterday by the Minister for Justice, Deputy Heather Humphreys, of the general scheme of the Garda Síochána (digital recording) Bill. This legislation will provide the legal basis for the use of body cameras by An Garda Síochána. We have seen people shove mobile devices in the faces of members of An Garda Síochána during hostile protests. I am glad gardaí will now have devices which will record events in real time and give a full sense of what is happening. We have also seen the importance of recording devices in the George Floyd case in the United States, where there would probably not have been a successful conviction without them.
On court facilities, for several months, I have been pursuing the issue of the development of a new courthouse in Navan. This is one of three courthouses promised under the national development plan, NDP, along with Bray and north Kildare. In a response to me, the Minister noted that while the three regional courthouses are part of the NDP, the proposed family law facility at Hammond Lane in Dublin city centre has taken priority. That facility is undoubtedly much needed but the site has been a crater for a decade or more and is being used as a compound by the developer. The last time representatives of the Courts Service were before the Committee of Public Accounts, the cost of providing the project had escalated to €140 million, an increase of €100 million on the costing in 2015. There is only €15 million in the capital budget for court facilities.
I ask that projects such as the courthouse in Navan, which are in the NDP, are not sacrificed in favour of this other major facility or put on the shelf because every spare euro for capital works is to be allocated to a project whose costs have already spiralled before a sod has been turned. The site of the Hammond Lane project is still a hole in the ground. We can deliver projects at a fraction of the cost of the €140 million earmarked for that facility, while also delivering regional balance.