Craigavon court venue for G8 arrest hearings

Craigavon Court House
Craigavon Court House

CRAIGAVON Court has been designated as a venue for G8 summit-related court appearances, it has been revealed.

Justice Minister David Ford is pushing through a change in the law to allow a wider range of court venues in a bid to deal swiftly with the influx of those arrested.

Global leaders are due to meet for the two-day conference in County Fermanagh on 17 and 18 June amid heavy security.

At the moment, county court offences are normally prosecuted in the division where an offence occurs.

But by changing the law for three weeks, other courts can now be used. Dungannon will be a primary court location for summit-related court appearances.

There will be specific G8 courts in Antrim, Belfast and Craigavon. This avoids a situation where the county court in Fermanagh becomes “choked” with potential G8 trouble-related cases.

“There has been incredibly good advance planning,” Mr Ford said.

“Good work has been done and, given the short time, we have seen constructive work around that.”

Also an entire prison block at Maghaberry jail has been set aside to house protesters convicted of disorder at the G8 summit.

The former Lisanelly army barracks near Omagh will also be used as a temporary holding centre for those arrested.

The NI justice minister said: “It would be very foolish if we did not plan for the potential of significant trouble.”

David Ford said that no-one knew what extent of trouble there might be. Previous G8 summits have been marked by violent anti-capitalist protests.

He said that an extra 3,600 police officers were being brought into Northern Ireland to support the 7,000 PSNI officers who will be on normal duty.

The justice minister confirmed that he had been given an assurance that no additional costs arising from the summit would fall to Northern Ireland government funds.

The vast majority of protests are expected to be peaceful. Police have said in the past that they believed the numbers intent on causing disorder would be very small However, there have been violent scenes at G8 summits in the past caused by radical anti-capitalist groups.