Councillors in Kerry have voted to sell a site to the Courts Service and pave the way for what the meeting was told will be an investment of €22 million in a new courts complex in Tralee.
However, the proposal to build the county complex on a greenfield site, gifted to the council for the people of Tralee, was not supported by the people of Tralee, opponents warned.
The sale of the 0.202 hectares at the Island of Geese site, a former bacon factory, given by Kerry Group, was proposed by Fine Gael councillor Jim Finucane and seconded by Fianna Fáil councillor Mikey Sheehy.
The courthouse building was no longer fit for purpose, Mr Finucane said.
Outlining her reasons for putting forward the disposal of the plot, Chief Executive of Kerry County Council Moira Murrell said the Courts Service had been seeking a site in Tralee for a courts complex for "many, many years without success".
Office of Public Works engineers had visited the existing 1830s building and the Courts Service had been "absolutely clear" it was not possible to create a modern court service there, she said.
The National Valuation Office had set the value of the new site at €160,000, Ms Murrell added.
Chief Executive of the Courts Service Angela Denning had told the council she wanted to put Tralee on the next programme of construction.
Voting against the proposal, former mayor of Tralee Cllr Johnny Wall said: "There is no dispute we need a new courthouse, but it’s where we want to put it.
"The people of Tralee are against this. More effort should be put into acquiring the An Post site."
Sinn Féin's Deirdre Ferris, also voting against, said: "We will be looking at a listed derelict building in the centre of town."
The meeting heard criticism of the Courts Service for allowing the Ashe Street building to deteriorate so much.
"The Tralee courthouse is not fit for purpose, but neither is the one in Killarney," Cllr Johnny Healy-Rae said.
Members of the Kerry Bar as well as the Kerry Law Society, including State Solicitor for Kerry Diane Reidy were present for the vote.
Prior to the meeting, the Kerry Law Society has made a public appeal to all councillors to back the sale.