Claire Sugden ‘looking forward’ to Justice role

Justice Minister Claire Sugden

Justice Minister Claire Sugden

The new Justice Minister Claire Sugden said she will be looking at issues affecting East Derry, including closure of Limavady Courthouse and rebuilding Magilligan Prison.

The 29-year-old East Derry MLA said the decision to accept the appointment was a “difficult” one.

The new minister told the ‘Journal’ she was “overwhelmed” by the reaction to her appointment, and said she felt “relieved” people had been so positive about it.

“I’ve had an incredibly positive reaction, and that was always a concern, but I have been inundated with messages.

“I can’t reply to all of them, but it’s overwhelming, to be honest.

“I think this is not just an opportunity for me, but also for my constituency,” she said, “and I am looking forward to it.”

When asked if she would be reviewing decisions made by the previous justice minister, including the closure of Limavady Courthouse and about the rebuild of Magilligan Jail, Ms Sugden said she will be looking at her brief and “all the issues under her responsibilty”.

Ms Sugden said now she is Justice Minister it didn’t mean she would neglect constituency issues.

She pledged to dedicate at least one day a week to the East Derry constituency and being “very visible” in the area.

Ms Sugden said she viewed the new role as an opportunity to voice the issues affecting the East Derry constituency “even louder”, she said, “albeit at the Executive table”.

“This is an opportunity for me, not only for me, but for the people of my constituency and the people of Northern Ireland,” she said.

SDLP East Derry MLA Gerry Mullan called on Ms Sugden to announce plans for the way forward on Magilligan Jail “as soon as possible”.

“The previous minister has already recognised that standards at the prison fall short of those required by disability access legislation and that the current infrastructure has outlived its useful life.

“It’s critical that we see a new build at the site to relieve pressure on staff and prisoners, offering them a genuine opportunity for rehabilitation in a modern prison environment.”