Close Ballymena and keep Magherafelt Courthouse open, argue solicitors

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BALLYMENA Courthouse should be closed and Magherafelt kept open.

That’s the opinion of South Derry Solicitors’ Association who say Ballymena costs six times more to operate each year than Magherafelt Courthouse and conducts less business.

The Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunal Service propose closing the South Derry court and switching business to Antrim in order to save money.

Local solicitors have presented a petition to the Court Service stressing their “forceful opposition” to the proposal.

They say there are compelling cultural, practical and financial reasons to support the proposition that Magherafelt Courthouse must be retained to provide access to justice for local people.

The solicitors argue that there should be an increase in services provided by the Courthouse to ensure that the needs of the community are adequately met.

And they provide an alternative strategy which they would like the Department of Justice to adopt in the crusade to slash costs within the judicial system.

The solicitors submitted that it is their firm view that Magherafelt court has the capability to accommodate an increase in court business.

They say that consideration should be given to introducing a sitting of the Family Proceedings Court within Magherafelt Courthouse on a fortnightly basis which would ease the workload of Derry Court and the financial burden on families from Magherafelt district.