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04/05/2007

€120 million Dublin Criminal Courts Complex revealed

Once in a century investment in a courthouse
Final details of the €120 million Dublin Criminal Courts Complex revealed
Work to begin next week

The Courts Service today presented the finalised plans for a dedicated Criminal Courts Complex for Dublin. Planning arrangements and contract signing have already been finalised and work is due to commence in a matter of days. The Complex is to be delivered by way of a Public Private Partnership with Babcock and Brown. Their consortium's design, delivery and ongoing management of this complex will see The Courts Service involved in a 28 year relationship with them. The construction costs of the complex will be €120 million.

The Chief Justice, Mr. Justice John L Murray, today officially launched the project to construct the €120 million, 25,000 sq foot, Dublin Criminal Courts Complex. As the Chairperson of the Board of the Courts Service he thanked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform for his assistance with this project - and he introduced an architectural presentation outlining the scope, design and details of the Complex.

The Chief Justice said the Complex will create "a future which promises a great change in the axis of activity in our capital's legal quarter". He said the new Complex will be the first State building of such monumental proportions to be built since 1922.

Work on the site and Complex will begin next week and will take 34 months to complete. The Courts Service plan to begin to move business into the Complex in the first quarter of 2010.

Need for the Criminal Court Complex

Over the past number of years a major need has emerged for a dedicated Criminal Courts Complex for Dublin. The criminal courts across the city centre and the Four Courts complex have struggled to cope with the levels of business presenting itself. This project will provide The Courts Service with a centralised facility to cater for all criminal court business in Dublin. It will allow The Courts Service bring to the nations capital the modern and world class facilities which The Courts Service have provided in County towns around Ireland.

Today's announcement gives the green light for this once in a generation investment in the courts. This landmark building will result from the greatest investment in court buildings and services since the building of the Four Courts was completed in 1796.

The courts deal with almost 400,000 criminal matters per year. Over half of these are heard in Dublin - see annual report on www.courts.ie for specific criminal matters heard in Dublin.

Location of Dublin's New Landmark Courts Complex

A site on the western side of the city's Legal Quarter, close to current court buildings, the Luas line and Heuston station, has been secured as a home for the Complex - which will house the Court of Criminal Appeal, Special Criminal Court, Central Criminal Court, the Circuit Criminal Court, the District Courts and associated facilities.

The site is on the corner of Parkgate Street and Infirmary Road, an important gateway to the city's civic and business area. The Complex will act as a punctuation mark joining the Phoenix Park and the urban landscape. Its position on Parkgate Street, a continuation of the city's quays, will follow the tradition of the provision of great public buildings along the Liffey or visible from the quays. This relationship with the river as a central vein of the city, and at thepo int of entry into the city centre, will ensure it will play a landmark and central role in city life and the cityscape.

Upon completion the Complex will encourage regeneration of and investment in the immediate area as it attracts a lot of legal and associated professionals to the area. The Courts Service believes its excellence of design will set a standard for others to follow.

Facilities

Entranced via a new public plaza, the Complex will contain 22 courtrooms, which will be enabled for video-conferencing, digital recording, and electronic display of evidence.

Great public spaces, first class consultation rooms & waiting areas, modern and various sizes of courtrooms and facilities for jurors will be provided. Accommodation for witnesses, victims, relatives etc will be greatly enhanced in terms of privacy, security and comfort. There will be dedicated facilities for legal practitioners and the media.

This Complex will set a new standard for criminal justice facilities in Ireland, operating with a flexibility and security which provides security and accommodation for all court users.

It will provide for the separation, privacy, security and protection of different court users such as witnesses, jurors, and the judiciary.

Schedule of Accommodation - Summary
Courts and ancillary facilities

 »  Sixteen jury courtrooms and seven non-jury courtrooms configured to be usable by all of the criminal jurisdictions based on business need.
 » Sixteen jury rooms accessible from jury courtrooms in a secure area.
Thirty one consultation rooms configured to be usable by all of the jurisdictions based on business need.
 » Sufficient circulation spaces for public waiting and safe and efficient access and egress from courtrooms.
Victim support rooms and ancillary facilities within a secure area.
 » Twenty six judges' chambers and ancillary facilities in a secure area.
 » A large jury assembly space in a secure area sufficient to cater for up to 400 people called for jury service.
 » Facilities for prosecution witnesses (including vulnerable witnesses in a secure area)

Professional Facilities

 » Legal practitioners' rooms in a secure area with ancillary facilities including prison video link.
 » Accommodation and facilities in a secure area for the DPP, prosecution solicitors, court presenters, gardaí and probation and welfare service.
 » A media room and small broadcast studio.

Secure Area

 » Cell accommodation for up to 100 prisoners.
 » A prisoner reception area with ancillary facilities.
 » Prison officer accommodation and facilities.
 » A control room and prison van dock

Staff

 » Accommodation and facilities for in excess of 60 staff combined from the three jurisdictions
 » A large public office dealing with all business from the three jurisdictions.
 » Meeting rooms and storage

Entry Area

 » A great hall entrance with sufficient circulation space for safe access and egress
 » A substantial security presence and security monitoring equipment
 » An information/reception desk and a separate jury reception desk

Information Technology

» 2 fully equipped technology courts and 2 further courts to be cabled to support full technology use
 » All courtrooms to be cabled to support video conferencing and digital audio recording
 » A central communications room and local communications rooms on each floor
 » Sound proof booths within technology courts and video conferencing booths adjacent to video conferencing courts
 » A computer room and video link rooms for taking testimony from vulnerable witnesses

General

 » Accommodation and facilities for security and jury minding personnel
 » Kitchen and restaurant facilities and separate dining for juries
 » Parking for prison vans and official personnel

The total cost of designing, building, maintaining and providing support facilities in the Complex over the 28 year period of the contract is €291m in net present terms.

Design notes and highlights

The new Complex is designed in an iconic format which will come to symbolise the modernity of our courts system - just as the Four Courts represents its great traditions. Its functionality will be of great use in the effective delivery of courts services through the use of innovative design features.

The public plaza at the entrance to the Complex signals and literally displays the accessibility of the courts - upon entrance the great hall is the living heart of the Complex and will provide a very accessible and navigable access to the expanse and levels of the building. First time users will be aware of the important function of the courts as they enter the building but will easily navigate its public routes due to the accommodating design. The Great Hall is reminiscent of the Four Courts Round Hall but is more like Rome's Pantheon in terms of scale.

The use of indigenous and quality materials throughout the Complex reflects the dignity and importance of the courts and will ensure the privacy and comfort of those who seek redress or have cause to appear before them. Light will be filtered into the courtrooms by means of an external bronze screen which will highlight the solid oak furniture and oak fittings.

The building is designed with a combination of polished and textured natural stone finishes along the detailing of glass and steel of the buildings facade.

The Four Courts - a Civil Future

When this complex is completed the Four Courts will be largely dealing with civil and constitutional cases. The extra space available will be developed for use as improved Supreme Court, and High Court civil law facilities. Plans are being developed for this work to begin upon the completion of the new complex.