Larkin could play role in Brexit legal challenge brexit – Email

Posted By: September 17, 2016

Irish News. Saturday, September 17, 2016

DEVOLUTION ISSUE: Attorney General John Larkin. Above right, Raymond McCord
Attorney General John Larkin QC could become involved in landmark legal bids to stop the UK’s planned departure from the EU.

Mr Larkin has set out his view that the joint challenges to Brexit appear to raise an issue of devolution – a potential gateway for him to feature in proceedings.

Separate cases have been brought by the father of a loyalist paramilitary murder victim and a cross-party group of MLAs.

Raymond McCord and politicians including Alliance’s David Ford, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood, Sinn Féin’s John O’Dowd and Steven Agnew of the Green Party are seeking to judicially review the British

government’s move towards leaving the EU.

They claim it would be unlawful to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the formal process for confirming the UK’s exit, without first securing parliamentary authorisation.

All issues and implications specific to Northern Ireland – including claims that leaving the EU will inflict damage on the peace process – are to be dealt in a two-day hearing at the High Court in Belfast next month.

But it emerged yesterday that the attorney general has written to the parties indicating his belief the cases raise a devolution issue around constitutional arrangements.

The judge hearing the challenges, Mr Justice Maguire, will now have to decide whether to issue a formal devolution notice. If he does so Mr Larkin can then become involved.

The judge is expected to rule on the point following a preliminary hearing next week.

At a review in the High Court, lawyers confirmed they were in dispute over some of the issues specific to Northern Ireland.

Mr McCord’s legal team contend Brexit will undermine the UK’s domestic and international treaty obligations under the Good Friday Agreement.

The campaigner, whose son Raymond McCord jnr was murdered by the UVF in north Belfast in 1997, is taking the case amid concerns that European peace money which goes towards victims of the Troubles may be discontinued.

The MLAs, backed by representatives of the voluntary and community sector, are also contesting the legality of the process.

They have identified a series of obligations that must be satisfied before Article 50 can be invoked, including requirements for parliamentary legislation and MLAs’ consent.

Tony McGleenan QC, for the British government, identified a narrow point of dispute about whether the 1998 Northern Ireland Act “displaces” any ability to trigger Brexit by royal prerogative without an act of parliament.

Outside court Mr McCord responded to political representatives who he said have described his challenge as a waste of money.

“Come and listen to my legal team’s arguments. Don’t just criticise because it’s Raymond McCord,” he said.