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Legal challenge launched against DUP and Conservative government deal alleging it will 'breach Good Friday Agreement'

By Claire Williamson

A Northern Ireland politician has launched a legal challenge against the proposed government deal between the DUP and the Conservatives.

Solicitors acting for Ciaran McClean, who stood for the Green Party in West Tyrone in the General Election, served a letter before action on the government alleging that it would breach the terms of the Good Friday agreement.

Read more: Sir John Major 'dubious' over DUP deal with Theresa May - warns of need to protect Northern Ireland peace process from 'hard men' returning to streets

Talks are ongoing between the DUP and the Conservative party, with DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson saying there is a "very good chance" of a deal.

The DUP remains confident that it can secure a deal with the Tories involving a substantial cash investment for Northern Ireland - but the party has dismissed reports that it could be up to £2 billion.

Read more: DUP denies demanding £2bn to shore up May and Tory government

                     DUP MP hails 'very good' chance of deal to prop up Tory minority government

London law firm, Edwin Coe's letter says the basis of the claim is that any deal between the Government and DUP will be in breach of the Good Friday Agreement under which the Government undertook to exercise its power in Northern Ireland “with rigorous impartiality on behalf of all the people in the diversity of their identities and traditions".

It says any agreement is "unlawful" because it "compromises the Government’s independence and breaches the reasonable expectation of the citizens of Northern Ireland, including Mr McClean, that the Government will act with rigorous impartiality".

Mr McClean said: “I campaigned for the Good Friday Agreement and remain absolutely committed to it.  I was horrified when I heard that the Government was thinking of getting into bed with the DUP so that it could survive crucial votes in the House of Commons. Both in spirit and, as I am advised, in law, such an agreement flies in the face of the obligations of rigorous impartiality under the Good Friday Agreement and is simply unacceptable.

"It’s almost too late for the Government to correct the position because whatever it now does in relation to an agreement with the DUP, even if it abandons it and continues in office there will always be the suspicion of some sort of deal having been done.

"My lawyers have written to the Government and we must now see what they say in response.”

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