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Sugden halts plans for court closures

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Limavady Court
Limavady Court

Justice Minister Claire Sugden has halted plans to close six of Northern Ireland’s courthouses.

The decision to close courthouses in Armagh, Ballymena, Lisburn, Limavady, Magherafelt, and Strabane was taken during the previous Assembly mandate.

Minister Sugden said: “Having considered representations from the community and in light of a number of developments, including Lord Justice Gillen’s Review of Civil and Family Justice and the new Programme for Government focus on problem solving Justice, I do not consider that it would be appropriate to proceed with the proposed closures at this time.

“Recognising the need to rationalise the court estate, however, I must ensure that when moving forward we have sufficient flexibility to deliver better outcomes for the community through reform and innovation.  

“I have asked the NI Courts and Tribunals Service, working with the Lord Chief Justice, to consider the requirements of the court estate in the context of a changing justice environment, mindful that facilities must meet the needs of those using our courts and in particular that the needs of victims and witnesses.”

The Department will continue to monitor the use of the court estate and any future decisions around rationalisation would be subject to a fresh consultation.

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