South Tipperaryâ€™s Oireachtas members have thrown their support behind the campaign to stop Carrick-on-Suir and Tipperary losing their district court sittings and to secure the re-opening of the countyâ€™s Probate Registry Office.
Minister of State Tom Hayes (FG), Independent TDs Mattie McGrath and Seamus Healy and Labour Senator Denis Landy have pledged to do all they can to prevent any further cutbacks to the countyâ€™s courts services.
The Courts Service is currently conducting a review of Co. Tipperaryâ€™s courts services, which is due to be completed in April.
There are fears Carrick-on-Suir Courthouse faces closure with district court sittings moving to Clonmel and that Tipperary Townâ€™s district court sittings will be transferred to Thurles. The Tipperary Solicitors Bar Association also fears the Courts Service Office in Nenagh is under threat.
Minister of State Tom Hayes said he had made a submission to the Courts Service calling for Carrick-on-Suir and Tipperary to retain their courts and he had also met with Gerard Nugent of the Courts Service, who is conducting the review, and impressed upon him the importance of these courts to both towns.
Minister Hayes said he would also raise the need to re-open the Probate Registry Office with Mr Nugent.
He said the district courts in Tipperary and Carrick benefitted the economic life of both towns and their loss would impose huge inconvenience and cost on local people required to attend court for cases and other business.
He pointed out that he was involved in the efforts to move the Tipperary court sittings from the Excel Centre to an alternative venue at the town library on the grounds of Dan Breen House.
Senator Denis Landy, who is from Carrick-on-Suir, said he will be raising the threat to the two district courts in the Seanad over the next week.
He also promised to try and arrange a meeting between Tipperaryâ€™s Oireachtas members and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald to highlight their concerns about the threat to the countyâ€™s courts services.
He pointed out that there was a lot of money spent on renovating Carrick-on-Suir Courthouse in 2007, which he was involved in securing, and it seemed very short-sighted to waste that investment now by closing it down.
Deputies Seamus Healy and Mattie McGrath said they intend raising the threat to Tipperary and Carrick-on-Suir district courts in the Dail.
Deputy Healy said closure of these courts, along with the Court Office in Nenagh and the loss of the countyâ€™s Probate Office were â€œabsolutely unacceptableâ€ and part of a â€œmore widespread, focused and deliberate assault on rural Ireland involving the stripping away of servicesâ€.
â€œThe cuts to rural services are another form of austerity specifically targeted against rural Ireland based on centralisation and the baseless belief that bigger is best,â€ deputy Healy declared.
Deputy McGrath said he supported the retention of Carrick and Tipperaryâ€™s courts 100% as he believed justice should be administered locally.
He said he was opposed to imposing extra travel costs on members of the public, who needed to attend court.
He echoed Deputy Healyâ€™s view that closing these courts would be another loss of a vital service to rural Ireland.