Belfast Telegraph

Court dismisses nationalist resident's legal challenge against on-going Twaddell protest camp

By Alan Erwin

A High Court judge has dismissed a nationalist resident's legal challenge to an ongoing loyalist protest camp in north Belfast.

Proceedings were ended administratively just before a planned further hearing to deal with her candour in statements.

Mr Justice Treacy agreed to dismiss the ongoing application for judicial review after being contacted by both sides in the case.

The woman who brought the action had claimed she suffered anxiety from being forced to live close to a hostile environment on the plot of land at Twaddell Avenue.

A resident in the nearby Ardoyne area and granted anonymity, her lawyers said the camp has made her life a misery.

She had been challenging the Housing Executive over an alleged failure to adhere to its anti-social behaviour policy.

Nightly demonstrations continue to be staged at Camp Twaddell against restrictions imposed on an Orange Order parade through the flashpoint area.

The site, which was set up in the summer of 2013, has been costing up to £40,000 a night to police. The bill is now reported to have reached £15 million.

According to the woman's legal team she is being denied the right to live peacefully by nightly band parades, noise and a general atmosphere of intimidation.

The Housing Executive was also accused of tolerating an unlawful trespass on the land by doing nothing to bring an end to the camp.

But at a hearing earlier this month counsel for the authority called for her case to be thrown out because her evidence was so misleading.

Mr Justice Treacy was told medication prescribed to her had been for psychiatric problems following her arrest on suspicion of throwing a blast bomb.

In a sustained attack on the credibility of her honesty, the barrister claimed newly obtained medical records contradict her evidence.

The court heard how the woman's home was raided but she was never charged. A separate lawsuit for wrongful arrest has been lodged.

Rejecting claims that the camp is the centre of criminality, anti-social behaviour or infringing on her rights to privacy, counsel for the Housing Executive argued that the alleged misleading account was serious enough for the case to be stopped.

A further hearing due to take place today was to focus solely on the resident's honesty.

But it has been confirmed that the judge has instead agreed with the parties proposals for the case to be dismissed administratively.

A lawyer for a notice party in the proceedings who lives close to and regularly attends Camp Twaddell expressed delight that the judicial review had been ended.

John Greer of Reavey and Company Solicitors said: "Our client feels that the outcome was a good day for freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and the right to lawful and legitimate protest."

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