Decision to keep Limavady Courthouse open hailed ‘a victory for common sense’

Local solicitors and politicians have campaigned to save Limavady Courthouse from closure. (DERR1002PG72)
Local solicitors and politicians have campaigned to save Limavady Courthouse from closure. (DERR1002PG72)

A decision by justice minister Claire Sugden not to close Limavady Courthouse has been hailed as “a victory for common sense”.

Claire Sugden announced today that six courthouses - Armagh, Ballymena, Lisburn, Limavady, Magherafelt, and Strabane - would stay open.

Peter Jack of Limavady Solicitors’ Association said: “I am delighted and very pleased for the court users that the minister, with her feet not long under the table for a very important department, has had the wisdom to take this decision despite being under intense pressure from the Courts and Tribunal Service.

“This is a victory for common sense, a victory for the police and a victory, most importantly, for witnesses and court users, not only in Limavady but all affected courthouses.”

The decision to close courthouses was taken during the previous Assembly mandate.

Minister Sugden said: “Having considered representations from the community and in light of a number of developments, including Lord Justice Gillen’s Review of Civil and Family Justice and the new Programme for Government focus on problem solving Justice, I do not consider that it would be appropriate to proceed with the proposed closures at this time.”

The minister said she’s asked the NI Courts and Tribunals Service, working with the Lord Chief Justice, “to consider the requirements of the court estate in the context of a changing justice environment, mindful that facilities must meet the needs of those using our courts and in particular that the needs of victims and witnesses”.

A spokesperson said the Department will continue to monitor the use of the court estate and any future decisions around rationalisation would be subject to a fresh consultation.