Northern Ireland High Court rejects Brexit Challenges

As the BBC report notes, the High Court in Belfast has dismissed two judicial review challenges to the way the UK Government intends to invoke Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union to trigger withdrawal from the EU. One of the legal challenges, by victims’ campaigner Raymond McCord relied on legal aid.  The other, involving Sinn Féin, the SDLP, the Green Party and Alliance MLA David Ford, has been funded, directly or indirectly, as the News Letter reported, by US billionaire Chuck Feeney … Read more

UUP MP’s testimonal “crossed the line on the independence of the court”

A testimonal provided by former UUP leader, and current MP for Fermanagh & South Tyrone, Tom Elliot, in the case of a former soldier who was caught driving while disqualified, has been criticised by a Northern Ireland District Judge, John Meehan, for having “crossed the line on the independence of the court”.  As the BBC reports [added emphasis throughout] District Judge John Meehan did not name Mr Elliott in court. However, the judge said the testimonial “crossed the line on the independence of … Read more

There Is No Alternative! (to Casement Park development plan) – Redux

Belfast High Court has ruled that the decision to grant planning permission for the controversial £70million redevelopment of Casement Park in west Belfast was “fundamentally flawed”.  However, Mr Justice Horner did not quash the decision, and will take further submissions from lawyers for the Department of the Environment, the GAA and the residents group who mounted the legal challenge before ruling on what the alternative actually is.  From the Irish Times report The overall bill for the redevelopment in west Belfast has now risen … Read more

There Is No Alternative! (to Casement Park development plan)

A fairly desperate argument from lawyers for the Northern Ireland Planning Service in Belfast High Court today, during the judicial review of the planned £70million redevelopment of Casement Park in west Belfast.  As the BBC reports The judge heard that DCAL have contributed £62.5m of the £77m cost of rebuilding the stadium as part of a project involving the development of Windsor Park football stadium and Ravenhill rugby ground. A Planning Service lawyer said that if the funds are not spent in time, … Read more

Lord Chief Justice Morgan: “Our system of government depends on mutual respect between the executive, the legislature and the judiciary…”

The BBC reports that, after waiting 8 months for a reply, Northern Ireland’s most senior judge, Lord Chief Justice Declan Morgan, has made public a letter of complaint he sent to the Northern Ireland First and deputy First Ministers about comments made by a NI Executive Minister in the Assembly.  From the published text of the letter in the BBC report Dear Peter and Martin RULE OF LAW Regretfully, I am writing to you about comments made by a Minister … Read more

Police win flag protest appeal

As the BBC reports, the Appeals Court has overturned a High Court ruling in April that the PSNI misdirected themselves in relation to policing the flag protests in Belfast – which “led to the situation in which the police facilitated illegal and sometimes violent parades with the effect of undermining the 1998 Act, in breach of their duties under section 32 of the Police (NI) Act 2000 and in breach of the applicant’s Article 8 rights.”  From the BBC report … Read more

Mr Justice Treacy: “It is evident that ACC Kerr was labouring under a material misapprehension as to the proper scope of police powers…”

The Chief Constable, Matt Baggott, has reportedly said that the police will appeal the High Court decision allowing “an application for a judicial review of the PSNI’s policing of the flag protests in Belfast between 8 December 2012 and 14 February 2013.” From the reported ruling Mr Justice Treacy was less than impressed by Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr’s interpretation of the legal position.  As the summary of the judgment notes [added emphasis] The Court heard evidence from [Assistant] Chief Constable Will … Read more

Lord Chief Justice Morgan: “this is a case about political failure”

Not the Haass talks.  You can keep your nose pressed against the windowpane with David if you’re hoping for a scrap of comfort from that.  No, this is about the continued dysfunctional approach of the two main parties of the Northern Ireland Executive semi-detached polit-bureau to the process of government – as defined under the current administration. Sinn Féin’s pre-Christmas (23 Dec) defence of the Northern Ireland Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill’s unilateral decision to re-allocate €137 million of EU funding over the next six … Read more

“The Commission has heard the decision of the judge late this evening and cannot agree with his view…”

We’ll have to wait to see the detail.  But, in the meantime, the News Letter has the he said/she said response to a High Court ruling overturning a Parades Commission determination in Castlederg.  From the News Letter report A spokesman for the band, which was supported by TUV leader Jim Allister, said the case was won through a resident who protested that he was being denied the right to see the parade. “The commission could not explain their position,” he said. “They … Read more

“it is important that other schemes that may be in a position to be progressed ahead of the A5 are given full consideration by the Executive”

As the BBC report, the Northern Ireland Regional Development Minister, the UUP’s Danny Kennedy, has announced that his department will not be appealing the Belfast High Court ruling quashing the decision to go ahead with the controversial A5 £330m dual carriageway project.  A “costly mistake [not appealing] but will not be the end of this project“, according to the “Sinn Féin MLA for West Tyrone and member of the Regional Development Minister [sic], Declan McAleer”.  The chair of the NI Assembly’s Regional Development Committee, the … Read more

A5 ruling: “They should not be left in any doubt about what may or may not occur…”

The Northern Ireland Department for Regional Development have 7 days to appeal the Belfast High Court ruling issued today quashing the decision to go ahead with the controversial A5 £330m dual carriageway project.  As the BBC reports Following the verdict, lawyers for the department sought to have the court order put on hold. They wanted time to meet a requirement to carry out an appropriate assessment required under the directive. But Mr Justice Stephens refused, citing the potential for a public inquiry and potential scope … Read more

“the looming legal row, which is due to commence on 9 January, could become a defining event for Northern Ireland…”

Well, perhaps.  At the very least it might provide the basis for some actual politics, for a while…  ANYhoo…  The Observer’s Jamie Doward with a reminder of the upcoming legal battle over planning permission for the Bushmills Dunnes development – a 18-hole golf course, clubhouse, golf academy, 120-room hotel and 75 golf lodges complex, plus associated car parking facilities, at Runkerry, close to the Unesco World Heritage Centre Giants’ Causeway and Causeway Coast. In June this year the National Trust sought leave for a … Read more

Lord Chief Justice: “These are allegations of specific conduct. We cannot infer that the disclosure was inadequate”

Having sought, and been granted, a stay on July’s judicial review ruling for unconditional bail for Martin Corey until an appeal could be heard, the Court of Appeal has now ruled in favour of the Northern Ireland Secretary of State.  From the BBC report The Court of Appeal had to decide whether the process undertaken by the panel, involving a gist of the information, was flawed. Judges carried out the assessment without access to the closed material. Delivering judgment on Friday, … Read more

Sinn Fein’s defence borrowing a page from the Scientology play book?

I’d treat with caution any attempt to estimate the Sinn Fein’s costs, not least because they don’t seem to have gone in to the trial with anything much resembling a case. In disclosure, they offered only copies of the press releases, with one defendant confessing he was a inveterate re-cycler. And as Sam McBride notes in the News Letter today: Amid a series of disputes about the conduct of the protracted trial — which was listed to last five days … Read more

Gormley wins libel case against Sinn Fein

The BBC reports the jury verdict in Declan Gormley’s, a former non-executive director of NI Water, libel case against Sinn Féin, the party’s Newry and Armagh MLA Cathal Boylan, and former assembly member Willie Clarke.  From the BBC report Declan Gormley sued the party over the contents of two press releases it issued in 2011 in support of his sacking from the NIW Board. The party denied the press releases were defamatory, but the jury found the party had acted with malice. High … Read more

“The court heard that the device had contained 200g of Semtex plastic explosive…”

Depressingly familiar scenes both outside and inside Bishop Street courthouse in Londonderry on Monday as three men, including a brother-in-law of SDLP MLA Pat Ramsey, appeared on terrorism charges after their arrest on Thursday last week. From the UTV report Appearing in the dock, all three men refused to recognise the court. And from the Irish Times report Dozens of relatives and friends of the co-defendants crowded into the Bishop Street courthouse for the hearing. More than a dozen police … Read more

Sinn Féin MLAs to claim ‘qualified privilege’ for press statements in NI Water libel case?

The BBC reports from Belfast High Court as, former non-executive director in NI Water, Declan Gormley’s libel proceedings against Sinn Féin, the party’s Newry and Armagh MLA Cathal Boylan, and former assembly member Willie Clarke, heads to its court date – 26 November.  Apparently, no political party members nor NI Water employees, members and staff on the Stormont Public Accounts Committee are to be allowed to sit on the jury.  And, also from the BBC report At a review hearing on … Read more

McGuinness: “We can’t have a half-baked approach…”

Whilst the Northern Ireland deputy First Minister, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness, has been urging co-operation with the police investigation of the murder of David Black, his party colleague Gerry Kelly has complained of “politically motivated” charges against Padraic Wilson – relating to the aftermath of the 2005 murder of Robert McCartney.  From the UTV report Sinn Féin MLAs Gerry Kelly and Sue Ramsey were among party members in the public gallery during the court case. Mr Kelly has demanded the immediate … Read more

Court lifts reporting restrictions on identities of Provisional IRA accused

The BBC reports that, following a legal challenge by the corporation, district judge Fiona Bagnall has lifted court orders prohibiting the media from reporting either the identities or addresses of five defendants who are accused of Provisional IRA activity in 1999 and 2000.  As previously noted All five are charged with belonging to a proscribed organisation on dates stretching back to 1999. Four of them are accused of arranging, addressing or assisting in the management of a PIRA meeting on named dates … Read more

Charges re-instated against Marian Price and others

The BBC reports that the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) have re-instated charges against Marian Price and three Londonderry men in relation to a 32 County Sovereignty Movement Easter Monday parade in the city in 2011.  Among those being charged again is Marvin Canning – the 50-year-old brother-in-law of Northern Ireland deputy First Minister, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness.  From the BBC report In May, a district judge said he would not return the four for trial as there were “no papers in front of … Read more