Decision to Close Four Courthouses Premature, says Committee
Date: Thursday, 22 November 2012
Reference: JUS 07/12/13
The Assembly Committee for Justice has today called the Justice Minister’s decision to close four courthouses premature and has asked that consideration of their future be part of the wider departmental debate on its estate strategy.
The call came as Justice Department officials briefed the Committee on the decision to close the courthouses in Bangor, Larne, Magherafelt and Limavady. These courthouses, or Hearing Centres, as they are known, are used mostly for Magistrates’ Courts dealing with criminal business which is prosecuted in the area where the offence was committed, rather than where the defendant lives.
The Committee was also briefed on the Department’s intention to undertake a wider review of the Justice estate which will look at the possibility to create a ‘Justice Centre’ where a number of agencies, including relevant voluntary sector organisations, could be based.
Speaking after the meeting, the Chairman of the Committee, Paul Givan MLA said: “While the Committee notes the reasons put forward by Department of Justice officials for the closing of the courthouses, the Committee believes that this decision is premature.
“We believe that the future of each courthouse should be considered as part of the wider justice estate review which will cover over 100 justice related premises.”
Notes to Editors:
The membership of the Committee for Justice is as follows:
Mr Paul Givan (Chairman)
Mr Raymond McCartney (Deputy Chairman)
Mr Alex Easton
Mr Stewart Dickson
Mr Tom Elliott
Mr William Humphrey
Mr Sean Lynch
Mr Alban Maginness
Ms Rosaleen McCorley
Mr Patsy McGlone
Mr Jim Wells
All enquiries regarding the work of the Committee should be directed to the Committee Clerk:
Room 242, Parliament Buildings,
Ballymiscaw, Stormont, Belfast, BT4 3XX
Phone: 028 9052 1629
Fax: 028 9052 1371