Londonderry Courthouse closing for eight weeks
Victims of crime are being asked to travel over 30 miles to testify after it was announced that Derry Courthouse is set to close for eight weeks this summer.
The Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service said that the courthouse will close temporarily to allow essential extensive work to be carried out on the ventilation and air handling systems.
As a result all court business from 9 July 2018 to the beginning of September is to be moved to Omagh and Coleraine "due to the level of disruption and noise throughout the building".
The court service said that "moving business to another Court building is the only safe and secure option for court users and therefore consultation on alternative accommodation within the local area would not be appropriate".
Foyle SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan said there was considerable "alarm and anger" at the decision.
“Should the closure go ahead it will cause huge disruption and potentially great distress to court users, particularly victims and witnesses and compromising their access to justice," Mr Durkan said.
“Furthermore, having to go back and forth to and between Coleraine and Omagh is sure to place a huge pressure on already stretched police resources.
“The fact that there was little consultation, if any, before this decision was announced is not acceptable.”
Local solicitor Kevin Casey told the BBC that victims could come face to face with those they are testifying against on public transport.
"You are talking about parents involved in contact disputes, parents involved in youth court, people involved in petty sessions cases who are now being told they will have to travel 30 miles plus to another court house," he said.
"These people are frequently in receipt of legal aid and don't have access to private transport."
Those involved in domestic violence and family court cases could now face the "appalling vista of the victims of domestic violence having to travel on the same public transport as the alleged perpetrator."
During the closure public counter services will however remain available at Londonderry Courthouse.
Belfast Telegraph Digital