Mr McCord’s case is that the British Government ceded some of its sovereignty to Northern Ireland through the enactment of the Good Friday Agreement and the Northern Act. Moreover, it is pleaded that the people of Northern Ireland are sovereign in relation to Constitutional change and only through the mandate of the people of Northern Ireland can Constitutional change come about.
Senator George Mitchell, who managed the Good Friday Agreement negotiations, when recently asked if Brexit was a breach of the Good Friday Agreement, said that the deal;
“plainly contemplates the possibility of a vote under certain circumstances that change Northern Ireland’s constitutional position… The agreement plainly provides that the political status of Northern Ireland can be determined or changed only through a vote – and it’s the informed consent through a vote – of the people of Northern Ireland…”
Clearly, Senator George Mitchell agrees with the core argument that has been made in Mr McCord’s case.
On Friday 28 October 2016 Belfast High Court delivered judgement in relation to Mr McCord’s case and that of the cross-party group of politicians. The court did not find in favour of either case.
Despite the fact that the court did not find in Mr McCord’s favour, we believe that it is significant that the court stated the following in the course of judgment;
“…this does not mean that a first level judge is free to disregard the doctrine or sweep it away [the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty]. If that task is to be undertaken it will fall to the highest court to do so…”
We agree with the court’s view that the issues raised in Mr McCord’s case are matters for the highest court. In this regard, the fact that the court did not find in our favour was of no surprise to us. The High court in Belfast is bound by precedent (that is existing law).
No single precedent exists that categorically proves or disproves Mr McCord’s case. Therefore, it can be said that Mr McCord’s case is complex and ground-breaking. We have always been of the view that this matter must be put before the Supreme Court in London, as the Supreme Court is not bound by Precedent and has the power to make new law.
Provisional dates have been set for the Supreme Court in early December.
Ciaran O’Hare (Solicitor)
Mr McCord’s case and that of the cross-party group of politicians are listed for judgment tomorrow at Belfast High court at 10am. This is highly significant as judgment will be handed down in Northern Ireland before London. Therefore, there can be no doubt that the world’s focus will be on Belfast High Court tomorrow morning.
Mr McCord’s case is that there can be no Brexit for Northern Ireland as the people of Northern Ireland are sovereign in respect of Constitutional change and this is based on the text of the Good Friday Agreement and the Northern Ireland Act.
Thus far, Theresa May and our own First Minister have stated “Brexit means Brexit” but we say that this statement is misconceived. Mr McCord is highly disappointed that our First Minister has adopted a submissive attitude and is unwilling to stand up for what the people of Northern Ireland have voted for. To say that Brexit should proceed, even though the people of Northern Ireland did not vote for it, is unconstitutional and plainly wrong. Mr McCord is of the view that, as no-one else is prepared to stand up for the views of the people of Northern Ireland, it is up to his case alone to determine Northern Ireland’s future. He says that we are fortunate to have a legal system in Northern Ireland whereby a citizen is able to challenge the state through judicial review proceedings. If it wasn’t for this right, there would be no hope whatsoever for Northern Ireland, as our politicians have not done anything to stand up for the majority vote.
In short, we say that the people of Northern Ireland have a veto in respect of Brexit. Scotland, England and Wales can Brexit if they so wish but the majority vote in Northern Ireland was to remain.
Mr McCord’s case is the only case which says that Northern Ireland cannot Brexit. The other cases before London High court simply say that Article 50 can only be invoked after Parliamentary scrutiny.
Ciaran O’Hare, instructing solicitor in this case, is confident in our argument and we look forward to receiving judgment tomorrow.
Ciaran O’Hare of McIvor Farrell Solicitors travelled to London alongside barrister Conan Fegan BL in order to perform a watching brief at the English challenges to the Brexit process.
Mr O’Hare explained: “The reason why these cases may proceed to the Supreme Court is that they involve constitutional legal issues of huge importance.”
In proceedings in London, Lord Pannick QC, on behalf of Gina Miller, has argued only Parliament has the power to invoke Article 50 and initiate the UK’s exit from the EU, rather than the Prime Minister.
The proceedings are concluding today.
[Source: Irish Legal News]
Northern Irish Lawyers, Ciaran O’Hare Solicitor (of McIvor Farrell Solicitors) and Conan Fegan BL, acting on behalf of the Victims Campaigner Raymond McCord, are currently performing a watching brief in London’s High Court today, in relation to the English challenges to the Article 50 process.
Their appearance in today’s proceedings were announced by Lord Pannick QC, lead counsel in the matter of Gina Miller. Lord Pannick QC advised the court of the current position in relation to Mr McCord’s case, in that Mr Justice Maguire presided over a 3-day hearing last week and judgment has been reserved. The court in London welcomed this update on the Northern Ireland position.
Thus far this morning, the court has been hearing submissions from Lord Pannick QC on behalf of Gina Miller. Essentially, the argument being made this morning is that only Parliament has the power to invoke Article 50, rather than the Prime Minister.
Solicitor Ciaran O’Hare says that he welcomes the submissions being made by Lord Pannick QC on behalf of Gina Miller, as similar points have been made in Mr McCord’s application in Belfast and therefore this mornings submissions support Mr McCords case.
He also says that Mr McCord’s case does go further, as in Mr McCord’s case it is argued that Northern Ireland has a veto to Brexit based on the contention that the people of Northern Ireland alone are sovereign in relation to any constitutional change for Northern Ireland.
The proceedings in London will last for the rest of today and then recommence on Monday and Tuesday.
Our client’s case was listed before Belfast High court on Tuesday 4 October 2016. On this date, Ronan Lavery QC, on behalf of Mr McCord made the following submissions to the court;
“Sovereignty over constitutional affairs has been ceded [by the UK]. It is not the relationship, as it might once have been, between a dominant partner and a submissive partner.
The people of Northern Ireland have control over constitutional change, it cannot be imposed upon the people of Northern Ireland. If that means that Northern Ireland could exercise a veto over withdrawal then I am [asserting] that is what Britain signed up to when it signed the Good Friday agreement.”
Mr McCord is pleased with the legal arguments that were made in court on 4, 5 & 6 October. Upon the conclusion of the hearing the court indicated that it would be giving the matter its immediate attention.
Belfast solicitors McIvor Farrell welcome the attitude of HMG that current Judicial Review proceedings taken on behalf of Raymond McCord in relation to the implications of Brexit in Northern Ireland be expedited as soon as possible. Before Mr Justice Maguire (QC at Belfast High Court), the Government’s representative confirmed that it was in the interests of all the parties that this matter is determined by the Court without delay.
Commenting after this morning’s hearing Paul Farrell of McIvor Farrell Solicitors said
“This is not a case that intends to undermine the democratic will of the people who voted for Brexit in the recent referendum but rather one that exposes the lack of any cogent Plan B in relation to the potential funding shortfall to the victims sector in Northern Ireland. As such we are of the view that Parliamentary scrutiny is required to ensure that the victims sector in Northern Ireland does not suffer as a consequence of moves towards Brexit and we welcome the opportunity provided by this case to do so.”
Victims campaigner Raymond McCord has launched the first legal challenge in Northern Ireland to the UK leaving the European Union. Mr McCord, whose son Raymond Jr was murdered by the UVF in north Belfast in 1997, is believed to be the first person in Northern Ireland to issue proceedings over Brexit.
He is taking the case amid concerns that European peace money which goes towards victims of the Troubles may be discontinued. The challenge centres on the Government’s response to the June 23 referendum result.
Speaking about the case McIvor Farrell Solicitor Ciaran O’Hare stated the case is:
“an important constitutional case which engages the Northern Irish public interest in a way that no other case has or is likely to for many decades”.
Ms Tanya Jennings recently joined forces with McIvor Farrell Solicitors in April 2016 after working for almost five years in the Lurgan Portadown area. She now heads up the Matrimonial Practice at McIvor Farrell Solicitors and offers a wide range of legal services and advice on matters including Divorce, Separation, Financial Settlements, Domestic Violence and Children’s Law issues. She also continues to offer services and advice to people and clients in the Lurgan/Portadown area and to attend at their local courts in the Craigavon and Newry area.
Tanya graduated from Queen’s University Belfast in 1994 and was admitted to the Roll of Solicitors in 1996. Tanya has dedicated her career to the practice of Children’s and Family Law and deals sensitively and passionately with the client issues involved. She has extensive experience in all family matters including Private Law matters such as Divorce, Separation, Financial Settlement, Child Custody and Contact and Relocation and Abduction cases. Ms Jennings has also been involved with numerous Public Law cases and non-accidental injury cases when Social Services have become involved with the family.
Tanya has an excellent track record of successfully reuniting children with their parents and providing top quality advice and ensuring reunification within the family home. Tanya is a member of the Law Society of Northern Ireland Children’s Panel and also on the Children’s Panel for the Northern Ireland Guardian ad Litem Agency where she offers specialist advice to children through the Guardian ad Litem. Tanya also specialises in Domestic Violence cases and throughout her career has worked closely with Women’s Aid and has been an advisory member of their Management Committee. She has successfully secured Non-Molestation Orders and Occupation Orders to protect victims of domestic violence and to ensure criminal prosecution of the perpetrator. Tanya has represented a vast number of clients throughout her 20 year career in Divorces and Financial Settlements and secured an optimum settlement in favour of her clients.
Company Director Ciaran Maguire said:
“We’re delighted to have brought Tanya to McIvor Farrell. She has enormous experience and a proven track record in her field. Our offices are based in Belfast but we offer legal services throughout the jurisdiction and, being from Lurgan myself, we’re especially keen to serve clients in the Lurgan and Portadown area.”
Belfast Solicitors McIvor Farrell attended a high level meeting with senior police on the 16th June 2016, on behalf of the family of murder victim Christopher Meli who was brutally murdered on the 12th December 2015, to address concerns they had in relation to Police failures to keep them advised of developments in the investigation into their son’s murder. This was the second occasion that we had to attend meetings on behalf of the family due to their frustrations with regard to the progress and developments in relation to the investigation. Following on from the meeting Police made a fulsome apology to the family with an undertaking to keep them well informed in the future with regard to progress and developments.
Paralegal Aine McElwee who attended the meeting speaking afterwards noted that while the family could have made a formal complaint to the Police Ombudsman this was not necessary in this instance, since the family’s needs required immediate action and the informal resolution process we proposed was the most direct and expedient way to deal with the issues in hand. We are pleased to have brought this matter to a swift and successful conclusion avoiding a protracted complaints process.
Should you have any concerns in relation to the Police handling of your case or concerns about a defective prosecution please contact us immediately.
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