A photo of the inside of Ballinamore Courthouse which was taken last year.
Councillors at this week's Ballinamore Municipal District meeting have unanimously backed a proposal demanding the Courts Service of Ireland outline what works they plan to carry out the former Ballinamore Courthouse.
They are also calling for the Courts Service to be put 'on notice' that enforcement proceedings will be pursued if works are not carried out to safeguard the historic structure.
The courthouse was closed in 2009 but serious structural issues developed in the intervening years leaving the entire first floor dangerously unstable. Windows are boarded up, the roof is leaking and little of the interior is salvageable.
At last Monday's Ballinamore MD meeting, councillors accused the Courts Service of allowing the historic former Ballinamore Courthouse to 'rot' through 'neglect''
Cllr John McCartin said it “seems to be last chance saloon” for the listed structure.
“The Courts Service needs to be put on notice that Leitrim County Council will proceed with enforcement action if this situation isn't dealt with, if they fail to take the steps necessary to secure this landmark building,” he said.
Cllr Caillian Ellis backed this call noting previous communications between Director of Service, Joseph Gilhooly and the Courts Service had indicated that “something, some plan will be put in place” for the courthouse by the end of this month.
“Work needs to be immediately done,” he pointed out. “This historic building is located in the heart of Ballinamore town and it would be a shame if it was left to rot.”
Both noted that the Courts Service had previously used the excuse of a lack of funding available to carry out works on the structure.
“This excuse of a lack of funding is just not good enough. I don't think we (as a Council) should tolerate it,” he added.
Head of Finance, Vincent Dwyer said the Council can write a letter to the Courts Service expressing members' annoyance with the lack of action on the Ballinamore Courthouse. He added that a demand can also be made for a full update to be provided to Ballinamore MD at the next monthly meeting.
Cllr McCartin said it is vital the Council put the Courts Service on notice.
“They need to know that this will go to the full Council meeting and we will be asking the Council to proceed with enforcement against the Courts Service,” he said.
“We need the Courts Service to put a good roof on the structure and leave the community with a protective, waterproofed shell,” Cllr McCartin explained following the meeting. “We could at least then formulate a strategy to make proper use of this landmark site.”
John McGahern Society
One possible use being currently explored is to utilise the historic property through the newly formed John McGahern Society.
Discussions are already taking place with NUI Galway, who retain the entire archive of John McGahern's works, as to what could be done to create a hub for visitors, lecturers and other events in Ballinamore.