Brexit challenge fails in Northern Ireland High Court
October 28, 2016

Today, a challenge to stop Britain’s trigger of Article 50 has been dismissed by a Belfast High Court.

The case was taken by a cross-community group of politicians and human rights campaigners including a victim of loyalist terrorism, Raymond McCord whose son was murdered more than 20 years ago by loyalist paramilitaries. He had argued that Brexit would endanger the peace process and undermine the Good Friday agreement. The challengers claim that because 56% of the Northern Ireland electorate voted to remain in the EU, the region’s devolved parliament should have the right to vote on staying in Europe.

A group of politicians had claimed the country should have a veto on an exit stating that the Stormont Assembly should have a say on whether to trigger negotiations with Europe.

Mr Justice Maguire said: “While the wind of change may be about to blow, the precise direction in which it will blow cannot yet be determined so there is a level of uncertainty, as evidenced by the discussion about how the Northern Ireland land border with Ireland was affected by withdrawal from the EU.”

The judge rejected five grounds of appeal:

  • That the prime minister’s royal prerogative power cannot be exercised to trigger negotiations because it has been displaced by the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and associated laws and an Act of Parliament is required;
  • That, if an Act of Parliament is required, the Stormont Assembly should consent to it;
  • That the referendum result should not be given excessive weight when considering whether to trigger talks;
  • That the Northern Ireland Office had failed to comply with equality legislation;
  • That the Good Friday Agreement had created an expectation that there would be no change to Northern Ireland’s constitutional status without the consent of its people;

He added: “In respect of all issues, the court dismissed the applications.”

Mr McCord has announced he would appeal to the Supreme Court in London.

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