Dublin Fingal candidate and family law solicitor Lorraine Clifford-Lee has called for the immediate upgrading of Swords and Balbriggan courthouses, which she says are badly in need of expansion.

The Fianna Fáil candidate has said she is disappointed that the Capital Plan announced last week ignored the work that’s required on North Dublin’s court facilities. She also called for a strict timeline for the construction of a new Family Law Court complex on Hammond Lane in the city centre.

“Our court facilities in North County Dublin are not equipped to deal with the level of demand due to an increase in cases and an expanding population. Swords and Balbriggan courthouses are quickly becoming unsuitable in terms of both space and facilities. The cost of a basic upgrade and expansion would be minimal and yet the Capital Plan announced last week makes no mention of the works needed at our local courthouses,” said Ms Clifford-Lee.

“As a family law solicitor, I have attended both Balbriggan and Swords courthouses on several occasions for a number of cases involving children and families in difficulty. Given the sensitivity of these cases, particular facilities are required to provide privacy to the children and families involved and to ease their distress as they go through difficult legal proceedings. A basic expansion could provide much needed meeting areas for solicitors and judges to meet with children and families in private. With the surge in demand and the sheer number of cases going through the courts, a basic expansion of the facilities is badly needed.

“I am calling on our three local Government TDs, James Reilly, Alan Farrell and Brendan Ryan to explain why our local courthouses were ignored in their new Capital Plan. I am also calling on them to explain the lack of detail in the plan on when a new Family Law and Children’s Court Complex in the city centre will be built. The plan makes a brief mention of the project but there is no detail, no timeline and no mention of the level of investment. Once again it seems like yet another empty promise from Fine Gael and Labour.

“Very few situations are as distressing as seeing a child caught up in legal proceedings. Cases involving domestic violence, custody, marriage breakdown, parental access and maintenance are extremely sensitive and difficult for parents and children alike. It is only right that we provide an appropriate environment for them to go through these legal proceedings.”