Local politicians, members of the public and representatives of the legal profession had all campaigned to keep Lisburn Court open, with thousands of people signing a petition against the proposal.
However, on Monday (February 8) the Minister made his final decision on the matter, with Lisburn being one of six courthouses to close.
Making the announcement to the Stormont Assembly, Mr Ford said: “Looking to the future, Northern Ireland requires a court estate that is capable of providing appropriate access to justice for the people of Northern Ireland and has the capacity and flexibility to manage the changing landscape of court business, including the changes in business volumes.
“At the outset, I acknowledge the sensitive nature of the proposals and the concerns about the potential impact that closures will have on court users. I would also wish to stress that rationalisation of the court estate is part of a wider process of modernisation which not only involves NICTS assessing where it delivers court and tribunal services but also how those services are delivered.
“The reality is that Northern Ireland does not need the number of courthouses we currently have and we can no longer afford to retain them and to operate them.”
For further details and full reaction to the closure, see this week’s Ulster Star.