Half a million was spent on upgrade work

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Local politicians have criticised the Justice Minister for considering the closure of Lisburn Courthouse, despite spending over half a million pounds on recent refurbishments of the facility.

It was revealed this week that £567,793.03 has been spent on upgrading Lisburn Courthouse since 2010.

“The Department of Justice has spent over half a million pounds upgrading Lisburn Courthouse in the past five years. Despite this significant expenditure the Department of Justice has marked Lisburn Courthouse for closure,” said Councillor Alexander Redpath.

“Lisburn is one of Northern Ireland’s few cities and as such warrants a courthouse. The size of our population alone justifies our residents having access to this vital public service.

“If the proposed closure goes ahead Lisburn cases will be heard in Belfast. I have experience of working in both Lisburn and Belfast as a practicing solicitor and I am convinced that Lisburn is a less stressful environment for vulnerable court users.

“Most court proceedings are extremely stressful on those involved and many of those involved are the most vulnerable in society. I think it is important that vulnerable people have access to a local Courthouse in a familiar environment that can cater for their needs.”

TUV leader Jim Allister also hit out at the Justice Minister David Ford for what he has said is a lack of joined up thinking in relation to the proposed closure. “The lack of joined-up government is bad enough when it occurs across departments, but when the one minister is the culprit it moves from folly to farce,” said Mr Allister. “In an answer to an Assembly Question David Ford has admitted to me that since coming to office he spent £4.5m upgrading the eight courthouses which he now foolishly wants to close. What a waste; what an incompetent!”