Armagh Courthouse to remain open

Armagh Courthouse.
Armagh Courthouse.

Armagh Courthouse, which had been earmarked for closure, is to remain open, the Justice Minister has confirmed.

Claire Sugden MLA made the announcement in the Assembly chamber today (Tuesday).

Her predecessor, David Ford MLA, had been pushing ahead with plans for the closure of six local courthouses, including Armagh.

Mr Ford told the Assembly that his decision was based on “unprecedented financial pressures” and the underuse of the courthouses.

However, on Tuesday afternoon Ms Sugden told the Assembly that she was reversing the decision taken in the previous mandate.

Highlighting the ongoing changes within the Northern Ireland justice system, the Minister said: “I have concluded that now is not the time to proceed with court closures on the scale envisaged.”

She added: “Given the changing justice landscape, I have concluded that we should retain maximum flexibility within the court estate for the time being. At the same time, I have asked the Chief Executive of the Court Service to establish a review of what the future of court services should look like in 2020 and beyond.”

Ulster Unionist Party MLA Jenny Palmer welcomed the Minister’s announcement as “a very good day for local justice.”