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Northern Ireland Troubles legal challenges represent fifth of cases before High Court


A number of legacy cases are awaiting determination.

A number of legacy cases are awaiting determination.

A number of legacy cases are awaiting determination.

Up to 30 legal challenges into Northern Ireland's troubled past are still before the High Court, it emerged on Wednesday.

The number of so-called legacy cases awaiting determination represents a fifth of all existing judicial reviews in the jurisdiction.

The current scale of litigation was disclosed as a judge held that a stay on some of the proceedings must continue.

Separate proceedings have been brought over alleged police failures to properly investigate loyalist paramilitary murders.

Co Down man John McEvoy was injured during a UVF gun attack on the Thierafurth Inn in Kilcoo in November 1992. Another man, Peter McCormack, died in the shooting.

Members of the same loyalist unit have been linked to the massacre of six Catholic men in another pub less than two years later.

Gunmen opened fire at the Heights Bar in Loughinisland, Co Down as their victims were watching a World Cup match in June 1994.

The men who died were: Adrian Rogan, 34, Malcolm Jenkinson, 53, Barney Green, 87, Daniel McCreanor 59, Patrick O'Hare, 35, and Eamon Byrne, 39.

In 2016 the then Police Ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire, said collusion was a significant feature in the murders.

He found no evidence police had prior knowledge of the attack, but identified "catastrophic failings" in the investigation.

One of the suspects in the attack was an informer, according to the findings.

Police were also said to have been aware of a UVF gang operating in south Down and involved in previous murders.

Mr McEvoy is challenging the PSNI's alleged failure to ensure an independent investigation into his attempted murder after the Ombudsman's report was published.

Separate judicial review proceedings have been issued by the son of James Cameron, one of two council workers shot dead by the UFF in west Belfast in October 1993.

Colm Cameron is challenging the independence of a police investigation into the killings.

Both cases are among a batch put on hold pending a determination by the Supreme Court on other proceedings raising similar points.

Lawyers were told on Wednesday that the stay will continue until after judgment is given.

Lord Justice McCloskey explained: "There are approximately 30 'legacy' judicial review cases pending in the High Court. The oldest of these cases date from 2014.

"There are some 30 extant cases in the cohort, representing around one fifth of all extant judicial cases in this jurisdiction."

He expressed sympathy to those bereaved or injured, but also highlighted the "heavy volume of other business in the Judicial Review Court and the serious limitations on judicial manpower arising out of ongoing recruitment difficulties".

The judge added: "If this court were to remove the stay in any member of this discrete group of cases it would be difficult to resist doing likewise in the others.

"This would simply magnify and multiply the expenditure of judicial, court administration and other public resources in a manner which I consider could not be justified."

Belfast Telegraph