Northern Ireland

Closure of some Northern Ireland courts recommended

Ballymena court
Image caption Ballymena courthouse is one of those the paper recommends should be closed

A report on Northern Ireland's courts has recommended that a number of them should be closed.

The recommendations are in a paper published by the Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service (NICTS) which has been given to the justice committee.

Among the recommendations are the closure of Lisburn, Ballymena, Armagh and Strabane courthouses.

A Department of Justice spokesperson said no final decisions had been made.

"The minister [David Ford] will take time to reflect on the views of the justice committee and will make an announcement in the new year," they added.

Among the recommendations are:

  • Lisburn should close and the business transfer to Laganside Courts;
  • Newtownards should be retained at this time;
  • Ballymena should close and all business transferred to Antrim rather than being split between Antrim and Coleraine;
  • Armagh should close and all business transferred to Newry;
  • Enniskillen should be retained at this time but that it should be designated as a hearing centre and opened only on those days when a court is sitting;
  • Strabane should close and business should be transferred to Omagh;
  • The earlier decision to close Magherafelt should be implemented, but business should be transferred to Dungannon;
  • The earlier decision to close Limavady should be implemented and business transferred to Coleraine.

Explaining the recommendations, the Department of Justice spokesperson said: "The consultation document set out the challenges facing NICTS in the context of diminishing resources which meant that continuing to operate the current 20 courthouses is no longer sustainable.

"In addition to the financial challenges, business volumes have been falling and many of the court buildings are underutilised.

"It was therefore necessary to reflect on the number of courthouses required."

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