Letterkenny's new courthouse on High Road. Photo: Brian McDaid
Donegal’s newest courthouse has been hailed as having the best facilities of any courthouse in the country.
The building at High Road in Letterkenny opened for its first court business today.
A hearing of Letterkenny District Court is being heard before Donegal's district court judge, Judge Paul Kelly.
The new building replaces the town’s old courthouse at Justice Walsh Road which was in use for over 100 years.
The new courthouse has four courtrooms and facilities for video-conferencing, digital recording, and electronic display of evidence.
Judge Kelly paid tribute to the Courts Service for delivering the new courthouse to Letterkenny.
“It is a magnificent facility and it is literally state of the art,” he said.
“The facilities here are unrivaled except outside the CCJ (Criminal Courts of Justice) in Dublin and in my opinion it exceeds the CCJ.”
“I wish everyone who uses the building the very best and I hope that it will serve the people of Donegal for many years.”
Western Regional Manager of the Courts Service, Brendan J McDonald, said it was his pleasure to welcome everyone present to the new courthouse.
He said Letterkenny had always been high on the Court Service’s list for a new courthouse.
“This new building has given us state of the art facilities in terms of family law, victims support and custody rooms,” he said.
“We really are very proud to be able to provide these services to the people of Donegal and practitioners and I wish the very best to everyone who uses it.”
Solicitor Kieran O'Gorman, representing the legal practitioners, said the new courthouse was the end of an era and the start of a new era.
“It is a wonderful change. I would like to congratulate everybody involved in providing this wonderful service and facility,” he said.
State solicitor Ciaran Liddy said it was fitting that a new year has begun and a new courthouse has opened its doors.
He said it was hard not to be sentimental about the old courthouse. The old courthouse was built for a different era and the new facility will give privacy, respect, and dignity to the people who use it, he said.
Mr Liddy and Mr O’Gorman both paid tribute to well-known Donegal solicitor Paudge Dorrian.
Mr O’Gorman said he was sorry that his friend and colleague was not present today.
Mr Liddy said: “Paudge Dorrian vigorously defended his clients for over 50 years at Letterkenny Courthouse and deserves special mention today.”
Judge Kelly said it was fitting that Paudge Dorrian was mentioned.
“It is a pity that he can’t be here today to enjoy what I think he would see as a fitting monument to the administration of justice in Donegal,” he said.
Inspector Sean Grant, speaking on behalf of An Garda Síochána, congratulated everyone involved “in the hard work of getting here today”.
According to the Courts Service there are first class consultation rooms and waiting areas and significantly improved security facilities for the safe custody of prisoners. Accommodation for witnesses, victims, and relatives is greatly enhanced in terms of privacy, security, and comfort.