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Councillors hold court to revive former glories

Efforts are being made to transform the old courthouse in Tuam, a protected building, back into a facility capable of helping to administer justice once again.

There had been suggestions at a recent meeting of Tuam Municipal Council that the vacant building be turned into a community centre.

But Cathaoirleach of Tuam area council Cllr Donagh Killilea (FF) said that he would be making contact with the Court Service to establish their views on the property.

He agreed that the establishment of a community centre on the Dublin Road property would be excellent – but he would also like to see court sittings return to the venue.

“I know it will take a lot of money to get it back to the way it was when court sittings were held there,” he said.

“But at the moment, the Court Service are renting properties in Tuam in order to hold court sittings in the town and this is not right when there is a building that is rotting.

“We have to have a plan for the old courthouse – whether it returns to being a venue for court sittings or a community centre. The fact that it is left idle with nothing going into it is not an option,” added Cllr Killilea.

The location of the old courthouse in Tuam has become a blackspot frequently by drug dealers and users in the town.

The dilapidated building located on the Dublin Road in Tuam has not held court sitting for more than two decades.

The matter came up for discussion at the meeting when it was stated that the Office of Public Works have no longer an interest in the building and the Court Service do not have the resources to renovate it.

The current state of the building was raised by Cllr Karey McHugh (Ind) who said that it was a shame that it was being left in such a state given its prominent location.

She described it as an iconic building that should be restored but now believes that a dereliction order should be put on it.

“It has turned into a mess. Several years ago we were told that the Court Service had plans for the building but now it seems as if it is just going to be left there to rot even further,” added Cllr McHugh.

It’s more than 20 years ago when the courthouse in Tuam closed its doors for health and safety reasons. It had become run down and totally unsuitable for the purposes of the Court Service.

Since then, the court sittings in Tuam have moved three times to its current location in a converted warehouse on the Weir Road in the town – it had previously occupied the Town Hall and the old mortuary in the Grove Hospital.

At one stage, the 200-year-old building was included for refurbishment as part of a National Development Plan, but the Department of Justice then came out to say that there were no plans to refurbish it.

Cathaoirleach Cllr Killilea pointed out that the whole building is a protected structure and urged that efforts should be made to have this delisted.

“The fact that it is a protected structure is a major stumbling block in anything being done with it in the future.

“It’s ironic that a building that dispensed justice is now one of the key locations in the town where drugs are being sold and used,” said Cllr Killilea.

Pictured: The old Tuam courthouse which has fallen into a state of disrepair.



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