Lisburn solicitors are campaigning to keep the city’s courthouse open amid concerns that local people will have to travel further afield to get access to justice.
David Ford’s Department of Justice is proposing to close Lisburn Courthouse, along with up to seven other regional courthouses throughout Northern Ireland. The closure is being considered as a “cost-saving measure”, to alleviate budgetary pressures on Mr Ford’s department.
A spokesperson for Lisburn Solicitors’ Association say they are concerned that the cost to the community will be much greater than the alleged financial savings to the Department. It is likely all Lisburn court business would be relocated to Belfast or possibly Craigavon. They say stakeholders such as social services, police, probation and the legal profession will incur higher costs as a result of extra travel and waiting time in major court facilities, miles from Lisburn city.
However, it is believed that the people most affected will be every member of the local community who has cause to access Lisburn Courthouse, whether as a victim, a consumer pursuing a small claim, those injured in accidents, defendants, those involved in family disputes, or any of the other matters dealt with in Lisburn Courthouse on a daily basis. “In particular, the most vulnerable members of our society, who depend on public transport or other assisted means of travel, will feel the impact of their local, accessible courthouse being taken away from them,” said the spokesperson.
Lisburn Solicitors’ Association has started a petition to save Lisburn Courthouse, which already has hundreds of signatures, including the local public representatives and many concerned members of the community. They are asking the people of Lisburn and the surrounding area to add their signatures, to show their support for local access to justice for the city of Lisburn.
You can sign the petition in any solicitor’s office in Lisburn, or view it on Facebook by searching for ‘Save Lisburn Courthouse’ and at www.change.org/p/department-of-justice-ni-save-lisburn-courthouse .