Magherafelt Courthouse closure delayed until late 2015

Magherafelt Courthouse.
Magherafelt Courthouse.

Magherafelt courthouse, which had been due to close sometime this year, has been given a stay of execution until late 2015.

Justice Minister David Ford made the announcement at the Northern Ireland Assembly in response to a question by DUP MLA Maurice Morrow.

In 2012, the minister said that the Hospital Road facility was one of four set to shut its doors by 2014,

Limavady, Bangor and Larne were also due to close as they were “among the smallest and least well equipped venues within the court estate”, according to minister Ford.

The decision followed a public consultation on the future of the five courthouses by the Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service (NICTS) in December 2011.

At the time, the NICTS said it was operating in a challenging economic environment and the buildings in question required significant investment.

However, the decision to close Magherafelt courthouse was criticised by local politicians and solicitors.

The South Derry Solicitors’ Association have called for Ballymena courthouse to be shut instead of Magherafelt.

The group said the County Antrim courthouse costs six times more to operate each year than Magherafelt, and conducts less business.

Minister Ford said that the administrative arrangements to facilitate the transfer of business Magherafelt courthouse will be enacted by Autumn 2014 once the supporting legislation receives Royal Assent.