Specialist ‘Bat Tiles’ have been put in place in the roof of Kilrush Courthouse to allow Natterer bats to continue to live in their Maternity Bat roost there.
The spend on the ‘Bat Tiles’ is part of an estimated €198,000 remedial works to the building that is now once more staging courts after a gap of eight months.
Welcoming the return of court sittings to Kilrush, a spokesman for the Courts Service said on Tuesday “the protection of this roost will ensure that the Natterer Bats and their pups can continue to reside there”.
At the first sitting of the court since last July, Judge Mary Larkin told the court “I hope the bats are happy upstairs and they are adequately provided as we are here”.
Judge Larkin said that she was “delighted” that court sittings have resumed in Kilrush, she added, “Justice needs to operate locally and be seen to operate locally.”
She stated, “It is terribly important for people in this part of Clare that they can go into their courthouse and see their judge and see law and justice operating locally because if not, it becomes something that goes on in Ennis or Limerick or somewhere else.”
Local solicitor, Gearoid Williams also welcomed the re-opening. Mr Williams told the court that the danger “is if the court house was lost then the centre of law practice in west Clare would have been removed”.
He said: “That does have a great effect in that it would reduce the amount of work for practitioners, and reduce the number of practitioners and the service to the community further reduces.”
The building works were delayed after the discovery of the Natterer bats last Summer. The Natterer Bat is one of the rarer Irish bats and the Courts Service has installed the bat tiles to allow Natterer bats to access the attic space where the bat roost at Kilrush Courthouse is located.
Last August, the Courts Service informed court users that Kilrush Courthouse would be out of use for September, October and possibly November after personnel made the rare bat discovery during a course of roof repairs.
However, the Courts Service only sanctioned the first court sitting in Kilrush since last Summer last week after delays to the project that was estimated to cost €105,000 at the outset of the restoration works.
A Courts Service spokesman said today that the effects of Covid-19, inclement weather, structural difficulties and the presence of the bats all contributed to the extended time spent on the project.
The spokesman said that the Courts Service is pleased that the works to remedy the roof structure and maintain the presence of maternity Bat roosts in Kilrush Courthouse is now complete.
He said: “We dedicated time, energy, and money to using the correct approach in undertaking this work”.
The spokesman said that the presence of this maternity roost of Natterer’s Bat in such an iconic building in the centre of Kilrush was not entirely unexpected, and the support and commitment from the Office of Public Works (OPW) to the protection of this roost was excellent throughout.
The Courts Service confirmed that it has paid in the region of €14,000 to environmental consultants and they monitored the works throughout the construction period.