PROPOSALS to close Strabane’s courthouse have met with almost blanket opposition, information released this week by the Courts and Tribunals Service has revealed.
A decision on the future of five courthouses, Strabane, Limavady, Magherafelt, Bangor and Larne, is expected within weeks.
Ahead of a ruling by Justice Minister David Ford however, a recent consultation exercise has revealed a deep disquiet to the plans. And opposition to the closure of Strabane Courthouse was louder than in any of the other four areas.
Statistics show that a public meeting in the town attracted more people and across a wider demographic than anywhere else.
A total of 32 written responses were received from Strabane by the Court Services, more than twice the number from any other area. Meanwhile more than 360 people also signed a petition opposing closures in Strabane and Magherafelt.
Among key concerns are that those greatest affected will be society’s most vulnerable, “for example victims of domestic violence”. Further concerns are that closures will result in additional journey, travelling times and cost.
It is almost a year since Justice Minister David Ford first proposed closing the five facilities, with plans to shut Strabane and usurp business into Omagh. A ruling from the Minister was expected almost six months ago however overwhelming opposition from the public has delayed a final decision.
Earlier this week the Department of Justice said a decision would now be made in the autumn.