Court victory over united Ireland border poll

Posted By: March 13, 2018

Distributed by Irish National Caucus

“Belfast man Raymond McCord, Sr. —from a Unionist/Protestant background— is one of the heroes of The Troubles in Northern Ireland.I am proud to call him a good friend. For 20 years, he has relentlessly campaigned for justice for his son, Raymond, Jr. who was murdered by Unionist/Protestant paramilitaries. Because some involved in the murder were British agents/police informers, the crime has been covered-up and justice denied. Even after 20 years, there has not been an inquest.

Raymond, Sr. has testified before Congress in 2009, which the Irish National Caucus was proud to facilitate. 

Now Raymond, Sr. has scored a notable victory in his argument that the power to call a Referendum on Irish unity should not rest in the hands of one person— the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, ‘who doesn’t even live in Northern Ireland.’”—Fr. Sean McManus

Raymond McCord believes the authority to call a border poll should not

rest solely with the secretary of state. Picture by Hugh Russell

Irish News. Belfast. March 13, 2018

A victims campaigner has won High Court permission to pursue legal action over the holding of a Border poll in Northern Ireland.

Raymond McCord was granted leave to seek a judicial review of the British government’s alleged failure to implement a policy for calling a referendum on Irish unity.

A judge ruled he has established an arguable case that the current discretionary arrangements are unlawful.

With his challenge now advancing to a full hearing later this year, Mr. McCord insisted he wanted to remove any possible political abuse of the constitutional issue.

He said: “It’s about taking the green and orange out of the decision, and that’s how it should be.”

The staunch Unionist is mounting separate challenges in Belfast and Dublin over the current provisions for going to the public.

His case against the British administration questions the legality and transparency of the provisions for holding a Border poll.

Under the 1998 Good Friday Agreement a referendum can be called if the secretary of state believes a majority of people in Northern Ireland no longer want to remain part of the United Kingdom.

Mr. McCord, an outspoken critic of loyalist paramilitaries since a UVF gang beat his son Raymond Jr to death in 1997, is not pressing for such a poll.

But the Belfast man believes authority for calling such a significant ballot should not rest with one individual.

He claims the current criteria is too vague and undermines the Agreement.

It was confirmed in court that the British government’s position remains the same since Karen Bradley took over from James Brokenshire as secretary of state.

No opposition was raised to Mr. McCord being permitted to continue his challenge to the alleged lack of policy.

The judge, Sir Paul Girvan, held: “I’m persuaded there are legal arguments there which justify the granting of leave.”

The verdict means Mr. McCord has now secured the legal right to press ahead with cases in both jurisdictions.

He has already been granted leave at the High Court in Dublin to take proceedings against the Irish State, Taoiseach, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Attorney General.

Following the latest determination in Belfast, he described the holding of a Border poll as the biggest decision since Northern Ireland’s formation.

“As it stands it’s left at the discretion of one person, a politician who doesn’t live here,” Mr. McCord said.

“It’s open to abuse, and we need a policy set in stone so that it can’t be abused by any political parties for political gain.”

His solicitor, Ciaran O’Hare of McIvor Farrell law firm, also called for clarity and transparency.

“At this juncture, it appears that the decision whether or not to hold a poll is at the whim of one person and the public have no insight whatsoever into the decision-making process,” Mr. O’Hare said.

“My client is looking forward to the full hearing of his case, which will be one of the most important constitutional cases that have ever come before the court.”