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October showdown date fixed for legal challenge to Brexit

By Alan Erwin

Published 10/09/2016

Raymond McCord with Ciaran O’Hare, from McIvor Farrell solicitors, at Belfast High Court yesterday
Raymond McCord with Ciaran O’Hare, from McIvor Farrell solicitors, at Belfast High Court yesterday

A landmark legal bid to stop the UK's planned departure from the European Union will be heard at the High Court in Belfast next month, a judge confirmed yesterday.

Mr Justice Maguire said he was pencilling in October 4 and 5 to hear legal challenges to Brexit.

He will focus on issues and implications specific to here, including the peace process.

The judge said: "We have to be clear on the plan of achieving completion of this litigation in a relatively short period of time."

Separate proceedings have been issued by the father of a loyalist murder victim and a cross-party group of MLAs.

Campaigner Raymond McCord and senior politicians are seeking to judicially review the Government's move towards leaving the EU.

They claim it would be unlawful to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty - the formal process for confirming the UK's exit - without first securing Parliamentary authorisation.

Similar legal challenges are already under way in London.

Both cases being mounted in Belfast are centred on the Government's response to the June 23 referendum result.

Even though the UK voted narrowly to leave the bloc, a 56% majority in Northern Ireland wanted to remain.

Mr McCord and his legal team contend that Brexit will undermine the UK's domestic and international treaty obligations set under the Good Friday Agreement.

The campaigner, whose son Raymond McCord Jr was murdered by the UVF in north Belfast in 1997, is taking the case amid concerns that EU money for victims of the Troubles may be discontinued.

MLAs, backed by representatives of the voluntary and community sector in Northern Ireland, are also contesting the legality of the Brexit process.

They have identified a series of obligations they claim must be satisfied before Article 50 can be triggered.

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