Alliance Justice spokesperson Trevor Lunn MLA has said the Justice Minister has not said where she will find the money to keep open six courthouses that were to close.
Trevor Lunn was speaking after the Justice Minister advised the Assembly she has decided to reverse the decision taken by the previous Justice Minister to close six courthouses.
Trevor Lunn said: “The Justice Minister has said she has made a personal decision to keep these six courthouses open, but has not identified where the money will come from. Before announcing the closure of a number of courthouses, the previous Justice Minister undertook a substantial consultation exercise, including a number of public events and a series of meetings with council delegations and other elected representatives. As a result of this listening process several courthouses were reprieved and plans put in place to close six.
“We now have the current Justice Minister halting these closures and announcing a review of what the future of the courts estate should look like in 2020 and beyond. Is this a review of a previous review? The Courts Service is already under severe budgetary pressure, and having to carry out this review while retaining courthouses that are working at well below full capacity can only lead to further pressures. The Minister has not identified where this additional money will come from.
“Good progress had already been made in streamlining processes and timings in the justice system, but I have concerns that this decision to retain under-utilised buildings is a backward step in challenging financial times.”