Victims campaigner loses legal challenge over border poll
Raymond McCord claimed the current criteria for calling a referendum on Irish unity is too vague
Victims campaigner Raymond McCord displays Irish passport together with his British passport last year. File photograph: Gerry Moriarty
A victims campaigner has lost his legal battle to have the British government compelled to put in place a policy for holding a Border poll in Northern Ireland.
Lawyers for Raymond McCord claimed the current criteria for calling a referendum on Irish unity is too vague.
Sir Paul Girvan said he was “wholly unpersuaded” by any suggestion that the secretary of state should be bound by a policy on such a politically sensitive issue.
Mr McCord immediately declared his intention to mount an appeal against the verdict.
“I’m disappointed but the fight will go on,” he said outside the court. “I still strongly believe there’s a real need for a Border poll to take the fear factor out of politics here.”
Mr McCord, a staunch unionist, has been mounting separate challenges in the North and the Republic over the current arrangements for going to the public. His case against the British administration questioned the legality and transparency of the provisions for holding a border poll.
Mr McCord, an outspoken critic of loyalist paramilitaries since a UVF gang beat his son Raymond Jr to death in 1997, is not pressing for such a poll.
However, he believes authority for calling such a significant ballot should not rest with one individual. His lawyers insisted a policy must be implemented to remove any uncertainty.
The court was told current arrangements are too broad, giving the secretary of state an unfettered discretion on the principle of consent and self-determination.
Dismissing the challenge, Sir Paul held there was no legal obligation on the secretary of state to have a defined policy in place.