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Time to ‘de-militarise’ Newry courthouse as it ‘projects a bad image of our area’

Strong calls have been made to “de-militarise” Newry Courthouse.

The courthouse, situated on new Street, is a prominent building in the city centre but his high fortified walls “projects a bad image of our area”.

That’s according to Newry and Armagh MLA Justin McNulty who has called on the Justice Minister to do something about it – despite her initial rejection.

“I find it incredible that Newry Courthouse is still fortified as though we were at the height of The Troubles,” said Mr McNulty.

“Not only are the high defences and boundary treatments a complete eyesore, but it also projects a bad image of our area.

“I have formally raised this with the Justice Minister on a number of occasions, for the same reason that I met with Council’s senior Management last month – because Newry needs a plan for investment and urgent attention to improve the appearance of our City Centre.

“The Council have agreed that this should be a priority, so I’m disappointed that the Justice Minister has demonstrated no interest in contributing to the regeneration and enhancement of Newry City Centre by de-militarising and normalising the courthouse site.”

In response to the question tabled by Mr McNulty, Justice Minister Naomi Long, responded: “Physical security infrastructure at all Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service (NICTS) venues is deployed on the basis of regular security assessments, undertaken by NICTS, with the support of other agencies and expertise where necessary.

“Where a security assessment recommends adjustment, upgrade or removal of any item of physical infrastructure, the associated monetary and non-monetary benefits are assessed at that time.

“There are currently no plans to make adjustments to the perimeter wall at Newry Courthouse, a key component of the physical infrastructure of that building.”

Newry courthouse was the target of one of the most recent large scale bombings in Northern Ireland history.

On the evening of February 22, 2010 a car bomb was detonated outside the courthouse.

Police had evacuated the area following a telephone warning 17 minutes before it exploded, a telephone warning was received saying it was in the centre of Newry and would go off in half an hour.

The car exploded next to the gates of the courthouse and the blast was felt for miles around. There were no injuries.

According to the BBC, it is thought that this was the first “large car bomb” to have exploded in Northern Ireland since the 2000 bombing of the Stewartstown police station.

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