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Northern Ireland politicians launch legal action bid against triggering Brexit

By Claire Williamson

Published 19/08/2016

The DUP was the only major party in Northern Ireland that backed the Leave campaign.
The DUP was the only major party in Northern Ireland that backed the Leave campaign.

A number of prominent Northern Ireland politicians are mounting a legal challenge to the implementation of Brexit.

While the UK voted in favour of Leave in the recent referendum on June 23, the majority of Northern Ireland opted for Remain.

The DUP was the only major party in Northern Ireland that backed the Leave campaign.

Last week the DUP hit back at claims they had performed a U-turn on its Brexit stance after both Arlene Foster and Martin McGuinness sent a joint letter to the Prime Minister warning that there could be serious consequences for Northern Ireland by leaving the EU.

Read more:

First Minister insists DUP is still behind Brexit despite letter to PM

Former justice minister David Ford is among a cross-community group of politicians and human-rights activists whose lawyers had written to 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.

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.

Papers were lodged in the High Court in Belfast on Friday August 19 seeking leave to apply for judicial review against triggering Article 50 - which officially begins Brexit.

Jones Cassidy Brett Solicitors represent the leader of the Green Party MLA Steven Agnew, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood, Alliance party leader David Ford and Sinn Fein MLA John O'Dowd.

Also supporting the bid is 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.

The statement read: "Letters were sent to the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on the 22nd of July 2016 on behalf of our clients whose rights and interests are affected, in different ways, by the United Kingdom giving notice under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union to the European Council of its intention to withdraw from the EU.

"We have now received a response from the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. 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."

Meanwhile the father of a loyalist paramilitary murder victim has been granted funding to mount a High Court challenge to the UK leaving the European Union.

Read more:

Raymond McCord granted funding to take Brexit challenge  

In the first challenge of its kind to be launched in Northern Ireland, victims' campaigner Raymond McCord was assessed as eligible for legal aid required to seek a judicial review of the British Government's move towards Brexit.

His challenge is set to come before the court early next month.

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