Brexit: NI cross-community group launch legal challenge
British government urged to reflect on peace process before triggering EU departure
Those supporting the action want to ensure the Brexit process complies with the rule of law. Image: The Irish Times
A cross-community group of politicians and community activists in Northern Ireland has begun a legal challenge to Brexit.
Papers were lodged with the High Court in Belfast on Friday seeking leave to apply for a judicial review.
Former justice minister David Ford is among a cross-community group of politicians and human-rights activists whose lawyers had written to British prime minister Theresa May and other Cabinet members.
They urged her to consider the country’s peace process and other unique requirements before triggering the mechanism to leave the European Union (EU).
The legal representatives said: “The various assurances sought by our clients have not been forthcoming and, indeed, the response heightened their concerns about the approach the Government was likely to take.
“In light of this, papers were lodged in the High Court in Belfast on Friday 19 August 2016 seeking leave to apply for judicial review.”
The law firm Jones Cassidy Brett Solicitors said it received an inadequate response from the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis and Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire.
Those supporting the action include: Green Party leader Steven Agnew; Social Democratic and Labour Party leader Colum Eastwood; senior Sinn Féin Stormont Assembly member John O’Dowd; former head of the Progressive Unionist Party Dawn Purvis; ex-Equality Commission member and disability rights activist Monica Wilson OBE; and the Committee on the Administration of Justice human-rights group.
They want to ensure the Brexit process complies with the rule of law, takes account of parliamentary sovereignty, protects progress made towards a more peaceful society and accords adequate weight to the democratic will of those in Northern Ireland who voted in the European referendum and in the 1998 poll on the Belfast Agreement.
Their lawyers have said parliamentary legislation should authorise the triggering of the Article 50 leave clause and that law should require the consent of the Northern Ireland Assembly.