Thursday, 3 June 2021
Department of Justice and Equality
Under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts, including the provision of accommodation for court sittings, is the responsibility of the Courts Service, which is independent in its functions. However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made regarding Carlow courthouse and the Courts Service has provided me with the following update on this matter.
The railings at Carlow courthouse which date from the 1830s stretch for 180m around two of the three sides of the courthouse; they are divided into 66 bays/sections and are in a very bad state of repair. The Courts Service advises that it is committed to their full restoration at the earliest possible date.
I am informed that the restoration work is a complex task requiring specialist conservation and iron-working expertise. The Courts Service does not have this expertise itself and is reliant on the resources of the Office of Public Works (OPW) to undertake and manage the task. I am further informed that the OPW has adopted a very thorough approach to this project and a great deal of background work has been undertaken by the OPW, including technical appraisals, investigations and experimental repairs. Due to the size, complexity and anticipated high cost of the project, the actual restoration work will be undertaken in stages and as funding allows. The first phase of the restoration works will see ten of the 66 bays/sections restored.
The Courts Service further advises me that the OPW is managing a competitive procurement process to select a contractor with the necessary expertise and skills to undertake the phase 1 restoration. An invitation to tender for the restoration of the initial ten sections issued earlier in the year with a closing date of 26 March 2021. I understand that responses received are being evaluated at present and it is expected that a contract will be awarded shortly. Funding has been allocated in 2021 to cover the anticipated cost of the phase 1 restoration of the initial ten sections. This initial work will inform how future phases will be undertaken.