Lisburn’s local authority has vowed to fight on in the hope of reversing a decision to close the city’s courthouse.
It backed up its promise by immediately meeting the Law Society for Northern Ireland to discuss the impact of the announced closure.
Council Chief-Executive, Dr Theresa Donaldson, joined Mayor, Councillor Thomas Beckett and other elected members at a meeting born of the council’s united determination that Lisburn and Castlereagh will not be the only city council area to lack a courthouse.
Councillor Beckett said the council would be seeking specialist help and advice to continue its fight.
“Lisburn Courthouse is an integral part of the life and economy in Lisburn,” he said.
“This decision has widespread impact on the area concerning its long-term sustainability and growth.
“We will be seeking further discussions with our community planning partners, with specialists in this area to fight this decision.
“Lisburn Courthouse is a priority for the council.”
Dr Donaldson , meanwhile, outlined what the council believed to be the inevitable result of closure.
“The closure announcement will affect victims who must go through the legal system and who will have to go outside of their area to overcrowded courts,” she said.
“It will affect legal service providers in the area, complimentary organisations and local businesses, so the knock-on effects will cascade across the economy. The council has embraced its new community planning powers and our responsibilities in this area will now see us, with council approval, voicing our continued opposition in the strongest terms.”
Law Society President, John Guerin, thanked the council for meeting with it to discuss the closure of the courthouse.
“The closure of Lisburn courthouse will undoubtedly cause great disruption, inconvenience and unnecessary stress to court users and those seeking access to justice,” he said.
“The society believes that instead of serving to improve the efficiency of the justice system and protect access to justice, it will undermine the effectiveness of the system and leave those that need it most without access to their local court.”