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Politicians and activists from across religious divide join forces to fight Brexit in the courts

By Michael McHugh

Published 20/08/2016

Dawn Purvis and Colum Eastwood (pictured) are both supporting the action
Dawn Purvis and Colum Eastwood (pictured) are both supporting the action
Dawn Purvis (pictured) and Colum Eastwood are both supporting the action

Lawyers in Northern Ireland have launched a legal challenge to Brexit on behalf of a group of local clients from the worlds of politics and the voluntary sector

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 the array of politicians and human rights activists whose lawyers wrote to Prime Minister Theresa May and other Cabinet members.

Those supporting the action include Green Party leader Steven Agnew, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood, Sinn Fein MLA John O'Dowd, former head of the PUP Dawn Purvis, former Equality Commission member and disability rights activist Monica Wilson OBE and the Committee on the Administration of Justice human rights group.

The individuals and groups involved claimed that before the Government can trigger Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, a number of criteria must be overcome, including:

l parliamentary legislation is required;

l the consent of the Northern Ireland Assembly is required;

l an equality impact assessment under Article 75 of the Northern Ireland Act is needed;

l the triggering of Article 50 must comply with EU law;

l even if legislation is not found to be required, all reasonable alternatives must be considered before using Royal Prerogative.

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 from the new Northern Ireland Secretary of State James Brokenshire.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph last night, Fiona Cassidy of Jones Cassidy Brett said that the issue was likely to come before the courts in the autumn.

Victims' campaigner Raymond McCord was also granted legal aid earlier this week to set in motion his own challenge to the vote to leave the EU.

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