Northern Ireland

Brexit: Lawyers for cross-community group launch legal challenge

The lawyers urged Theresa May to consider the country's peace process before triggering Article 50 Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The lawyers urged Theresa May to consider the country's peace process before triggering Article 50

Lawyers in Northern Ireland have begun a legal challenge to the Brexit vote.

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 a group of politicians and human-rights activists whose lawyers had written to the Prime Minister.

They urged Theresa May to consider the country's peace process before triggering Article 50. - the formal process for the UK to leave the EU.

Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption David Ford is among a group of politicians and human-rights activists whose lawyers had written to the Prime Minister

The legal representatives said: "The various assurances sought by our clients have not been forthcoming and, indeed, the response heightened their concerns about the approach the Government was likely to take.

"In light of this, papers were lodged in the High Court in Belfast on Friday seeking leave to apply for judicial review."

'Inadequate response'

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 Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire.

Among the MLAs backing the move are Green Party leader Steven Agnew, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood and Sinn Féin's John O'Dowd.

Former head of the PUP Dawn Purvis and disability rights activist Monica Wilson are also behind the action, as are the Committee on the Administration of Justice human-rights group.

Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Former head of the PUP Dawn Purvis is also among those backing the action

They say they want to ensure the Brexit process "protects progress made towards a more peaceful society" and accords "adequate weight to the democratic will of those in Northern Ireland who voted in the European referendum and in the 1998 poll on the Good Friday Agreement".

Their lawyers have said parliamentary legislation should authorise the triggering of the Article 50 leave clause, and that law should require the consent of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Image caption Mr McCord is a campaigner for victims of the Troubles

Last week, the father of a man murdered by loyalist paramilitaries launched a legal challenge to Brexit.

Raymond McCord is seeking a judicial review and lodged the papers at the High Court in Belfast last Thursday.

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