The new Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council is set to do all it can to save Lisburn Courthouse from closure.
UUP Councillor Jim Dillon explained that during a recent meeting of the new super council he proposed to “fight the closure of the courthouse”.
This follows last week’s announcement that eight of Northern Ireland’scourts are to be closed, bringing the overall number down to 12 due to a £75 million budget cut at the Department of Justice.
With the NI Courts and Tribunals Service facing a cut of almost 11 per cent, or £2.3 million, Mr Ford is proposing to close Limavady, Strabane, Enniskillen, Magherafelt, Ballymena, Newtownards, Armagh and Lisburn courts.
Mr Dillon said: “We agreed that we will write to the Minister to request a meeting.”
“We will do all we can to save the courthouse,” he added.
“There probably are too many courthouses in poor condition, as Lisburn is so it needs replaced.
“Lisburn was promised a new courthouse 20 years ago and this is the kick in the teeth that we get,” added Mr Dillon.
th the NI Courts and Tribunals Service facing a cut of almost 11 per cent, or £2.3 million, Mr Ford is proposing to close Limavady, Strabane, Enniskillen, Magherafelt, Ballymena, Newtownards, Armagh and Lisburn courts.
He claims the move would save almost £1.5 million a year, with £300,000 of that saved by the Prison Service on reduced transport costs for taking prisoners to court.
The closures would see services centralised in other regional courts, with the number of court districts in Northern Ireland reduced from seven to three.
Before it was announced that Lisburn Courthouse does face closure, DUP Councillor Alex Redpath had voiced concerns over the consequences of such a move.
He commented: “I would urge anyone with an interest in Lisburn Courthouse to make their voices heard. In the event that Lisburn is closed I imagine a large number of cases will be heard in Craigavon.
“I think this would be an unfortunate step. I have practiced as a solicitor in Craigavon Courthouse and whilst the staff are excellent the building is already heavily used and I fear an influx of users from the Lisburn area would make the courthouse uncomfortable.”
Mr Redpath added: “Many users of Courthouses are amongst the most vulnerable in society such as witnesses, young people and the victims of crime. It is absolutely essential that the Court Service can cater for the needs of vulnerable court users.”