Belfast Telegraph

Victims campaigner wins right to challenge border poll policy in both NI and Republic

By Alan Erwin

A victims campaigner has secured permission to mount separate legal actions in Belfast and Dublin over the holding of a border poll in Northern Ireland, his lawyer has confirmed.

Raymond McCord was already challenging the British Government's alleged failure to implement a policy for going to the public on the constitutional issue.

But he has now obtained leave from the High Court in Dublin to proceed with a case against the Irish administration, according to his solicitor.

With hearings now set to take place in both jurisdictions next year, Mr McCord said: "I'm delighted, history is being created.

"This isn't about me, this is about removing the fear factor of a border poll being abused by politicians pitting one side against the other for political gain on the whole island of Ireland."

The case against the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland questions the legality and transparency of current provisions for holding a border poll.

Under the 1998 Good Friday Agreement a referendum can be called if it appears to the Secretary of State that a majority of people in Northern Ireland no longer want to remain part of the UK.

Mr McCord, a unionist and outspoken critic of loyalist paramilitaries since a UVF gang beat his son Raymond Jr to death in 1997, is not seeking a border poll.

But the Belfast man believes authority for calling such a significant ballot should not rest with one individual. He also claims the current criteria is too vague, undermines the Agreement and could leave the decision open to political expediency.

Mr McCord travelled to Dublin yesterday with his legal team to seek leave to mount a similar challenge against the Irish Government, Taoiseach, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Attorney General.

His lawyers argued that as a co-guarantor of the Agreement, the Irish administration must also have a policy on the border poll issue.

Belfast Telegraph

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