Court closure is part of ‘Vietnamisation’

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A retired Ballymena solicitor has argued that the proposed closure of the local courthouse is evidence of ‘ Vietnamisation’.

Lyle Cubitt, who practiced in Ballymena throughout his long career, equated the proposals with the gradual withdrawal tactic used in South East Asia by the USA in the 1970s.

He said he had been ‘somewhat surprised’ that a recent daytime meeting at the courthouse did not take place in the evening and in a ‘more appropriate’ public forum.

And he added: “Unfortunately one of the conclusions which the public may reach is that this was the public representatives and the members of the legal profession suiting themselves rather than the public; surely the importance of sounding public opinion to maintain the Courthouse in Ballymena merits an evening meeting which may attract members of the public rather than in the late afternoon when many could not attend?”

He contended that reports of the meeting indicated that those taking part ‘singularly failed to address the political and constitutional significance of justice being available to all persons at a local level’.

Mr. Cubitt continued: “They also failed to address what could be referred to as the ‘Vietnamisation’ of Northern Ireland in that Ballymena is not the only major court being proposed to be closed but there is also Enniskillen, Armagh, Lisburn, Magherafelt, Strabane and Newtownards. This reduction is going hand in hand with the closure of police stations and one has got to ask how long will it be before Ballymena Station will close permanently?

“The first signs are already there with closure at night.

“At a DPP meeting a number of years ago I suggested this probability and the great and the good scoffed at such a suggestion but I am sure I will now be overwhelmed with letters of apology! There is, quite clearly, a policy of capitulation to the political war of the PIRA which will lead to the withdrawal of British institutions similar to the American withdrawal policy in Vietnam.

“The failure of local politicians to recognise this subterfuge is of course in keeping with their failures over the years. It is hard to imagine that a town the size of Ballymena should be passed over for a much smaller entity such as Antrim so exactly what steps are going to be taken by the public representatives and the legal profession to maintain a court presence in the prime town in County Antrim?”