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14/02/2008

Domestic Violence cases to be heard in much improved circumstances.

Family Law facilities opened following €4 million Dolphin House refurbishment.

"All court users and their families have a right to suitable accommodation and facilities. This is particularly so in the case of family law. Court facilities and accommodation which respects the privacy and dignity of family law applicants are essential and significant improvements have been made at Dolphin House." - Judge Gerard Furlong

The Minister for Justice, Equality, and Law Reform, Brian Lenihan TD, will officially open the refurbished courthouse in Dolphin House, East Essex Street, Dublin today, Thursday February 14th at 4:45pm. The board of the Courts Service will be represented by Judge Gerard Furlong - who will preside over the event.

A prime city-centre site since the end of the nineteenth-century, Dolphin House now serves as a dedicated Family Law facility, providing the 21st century facilities that court users deserve. This refurbishment sees a number of changes aimed at maintaining the dignity and privacy of court users who can experience considerable pressures during family law cases - which can involve men and women seeking access, custody and guardianship of children, or safety or barring orders in cases of domestic violence.

The New Facilities:

Court facilities and accommodation which respects the privacy and dignity of family law applicants is essential. The new facilities at Dolphin House meet this requirement. Following the comprehensive refurbishment of the building the new facilities include:

  • Five new enlarged courtrooms and Judges' Chambers
  • Separate areas for family law applications/enquiries and payments
  • A legal practitioners' room
  • Office for the Legal Aid Board, who will have a permanent presence on site
  • Additional consultation rooms
  • A new waiting area, reception desk and signage to improve access
  • An information screen showing daily listing of cases and their status
  • An information point carrying an array of booklets and leaflets for court users
  • Universal access
  • Three interview rooms.
  • Enhanced security
  • Prisoner holding room
  • Upgraded ventilation system, baby changing room, and a light refreshment machine

Persons coming before the courts here can now do so in an environment which respects the sensitivity and confidentiality of family law applicants. Judges hearing the cases, the court staff and the legal profession now also have a modern working environment with appropriate facilities and supports.

Conservation

The interior of Dolphin House was completely remodelled upon its conversion into a courthouse at the end of the 70s. The latest refurbishment sought to preserve the historic exterior of Dolphin House. The three-storey oriel bay window that runs up from the building's entrance is still in place, as are the squared red-brick window openings.

History

Dolphin House is a terraced, ten-bay, four-storey red brick Victorian building that was built in the 1890s to a design by architect J.J. O'Callaghan. Before its conversion to a courthouse the site was used as the Dolphin Hotel and Restaurant.