'˜We have a lifeline for the heart of the town'

A Limavady solicitor believes a service that is at 'the heart of the town' may have been thrown a lifeline to stay open.

Friday, 16th September 2016, 12:00 pm
Updated Wednesday, 5th October 2016, 2:20 pm
Local solicitors and politicians have campaigned to save Limavady Courthouse from closure. (DERR1002PG72)

The previous justice minister, David Ford, said Limavady Courthouse would close in February, along with courthouses in Armagh, Ballymena, Lisburn, Magherafelt and Strabane.

However, that decision is the subject of judicial review proceedings in the High Court in Belfast; in relation to Ballymena, Lisburn & Strabane Courthouses. The NI Courts and Tribunal Service say it is not their intention to proceed with any court closures pending the outcome of those proceedings.

“Limavady Courthouse will, therefore, continue to operate as a hearing centre in the interim,” said a spokesperson. “As the rationalisation of the court estate is now the subject of legal proceedings it would not be appropriate to make any further comments at this stage.”

However, Secretary of Limavady Solicitor’s Association, Peter Jack says it provides hope Limavady Courthouse may avoid closure.

“We are pleased there are Judicial Review proceedings and pleased we have been handed a lifeline.

“We would remind the minister, Claire Sugden, that she was an MLA and she was in support of retention of Limavady Courthouse, and that we have several more District Judges courts listed for Limavady,” said Mr Jack.

There has been a campaign to save the courthouse from closure for 14 years.

“We’re back in limbo land, and it’s a case of wait and see the outcome of the Judicial proceedings,” said Mr Jack.

Should the Limavady Courthouse close, Mr Jack said it would be an economic blow for Limavady.

“It’s another body blow to the heart of the town, not just for court uses but as a symbol of the town. You lose your Council headquarters, your police custody office; this would be another blow to the town but, there is still hope,” he said. “We have a lifeline.”