Alliance Justice spokesperson Trevor Lunn MLA has questioned where the Justice Minister is going to find the money to keep open Lisburn Courthouse and five others that were earmarked for closure.
Mr Lunn was speaking after Minister Claire Sugden advised the Assembly that she had decided to reverse the decision taken by the previous Justice Minister, Alliance MLA David Ford, to close the six courthouses.
While the move to keep Lisburn Courthouse open has been welcomed by local solicitors, politicians and the council, Mr Lunn has voiced concerns about where the funding needed to retain it and the other five regional court buildings is going to come from.
“Before announcing the closure of a number of courthouses, the previous Justice Minister undertook a substantial consultation exercise, including a number of public events and a series of meetings with council delegations and other elected representatives. As a result of this listening process several courthouses were reprieved and plans put in place to close six,” Mr Lunn said.
“We now have the current Justice Minister halting these closures and announcing a review of what the future of the courts estate should look like in 2020 and beyond. Is this a review of a previous review? The Courts Service is already under severe budgetary pressure, and having to carry out this review while retaining courthouses that are working at well below full capacity can only lead to further pressures.
“Good progress had already been made in streamlining processes and timings in the justice system, but I have concerns that this decision to retain under-utilised buildings is a backward step in challenging financial times,” he added.
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