NI: David Ford and others threaten legal challenge over Brexit

Former Justice Minister David Ford
Former Justice Minister David Ford

Northern Ireland’s former Justice Minister David Ford is among a group of politicians and human rights activists who have threatened a judicial review over Brexit.

Lawyers for a cross-community group have written to Prime Minister Theresa May and Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire, calling for Northern Ireland’s unique interests and circumstances to be fully considered before Article 50 is activated.

It comes in the wake of last month’s EU referendum, in which the Leave side narrowly won with 52 per cent of the vote.

In Northern Ireland, the Remain side won with 56 per cent.

In a letter sent on behalf of the group, solicitors wrote: “All our clients’ rights and interests are affected, in different ways, by the United Kingdom giving notice under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union to the European Council of its intention to withdraw from the EU.

“The purpose of our clients’ correspondence is to put the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on notice of their intention to apply to the High Court in Belfast for leave to apply for judicial review, if the Prime Minister fails to commit to comply with the UK’s constitutional and legal obligations in deciding whether and when to trigger Article 50.

“These obligations include safeguarding the unique requirements of Northern Ireland constitutional law and statute, in particular the statutory recognition of the Belfast-Good Friday Agreement, and satisfying the requirements of EU law incorporated into the law of Northern Ireland by the European Communities Act 1972.”

Other applicants who belong to the group include former Education Minister John O’Dowd; SDLP leader Colum Eastwood; Green Party leader Steven Agnew; Dessie Donnelly, director of development at Participation and the Practice of Rights (PPR); former MLA Dawn Purvis; disability rights activist Monica Wilson OBE; and the Committee on the Administration of Justice.

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