Despite it getting a €14m makeover, the services provided at Mullingar courthouse have been downgraded.
Prior to the temporary closure of the courthouse in October 2015 for its multi-million euro makeover the Civil Motion Court Sittings presided over by the County Registrar were held once a month in both Mullingar and Athlone.
While the Mullingar District Court sittings moved to the St Loman’s GAA Club base on the Delvin Road when work on the courthouse was being carried out, all of the sittings of the Civil Motion Court moved to Athlone.
It was expected that when the courthouse reopened that the Civil Motion Court, which in recent years has predominantly dealt with home repossession cases, would return to Mullingar for its monthly sitting.
However, much to the surprise of members of the legal profession, all of the Civil Motion Court sittings are to stay in Athlone.
Deputy Robert Troy says that it is an “absolute joke” that after €14m of taxpayers’ money was spent expanding the facilities at the courthouse that the services it provides would be downgraded.
“It’s absolutely scandalous to think that they are going to do up a facility, bring it up to such a high standard and then reduce the services that were previously offered.
“It’s a public building, the facilities needed to be improved and it has been done with huge expense to the taxpayers.”
Deputy Troy also noted that Mullingar courthouse now has around 15 consultation rooms compared to the four in Athlone.
These consultation rooms are necessary, he says, when the cases being heard are on sensitive matters such as home repossessions.
“If the government had been doing their jobs, some of these cases should not be going to court but the fact that they are, the least the people should be able to expect is to be dealt with in a sensitive manner where there are an appropriate number of consultation rooms.
“And also that they shouldn’t be put through the unnecessary expense of having to travel to Athlone when we have a state of the art facility in our own town.
“The government have failed these people in relation to the repossession of home mortgages.
“There should be no major repossession of home mortgages. They should be let and the former owners put in as tenants.
“The buy to let scheme has been a monumental failure. If that had worked properly a lot of these wouldn’t have gone to court. But now that they are going to court, these people should at least be able to go their local town and at least be able to be dealt with in a sensitive manner.”
• We sought comment from the Courts Service last week, but at the time of going to press yesterday, Monday, had not received a response.