Appeal judges warned of threat posed by Brexit to peace process
Brexit has lit the fuse on a stick of dynamite under the Good Friday Agreement, Appeal Court judges in Belfast have been told.
A legal challenge against a no-deal exit from the EU is seeking to “extinguish the fuse” before Northern Ireland’s historic peace accord is destroyed, Barry McDonald QC said.
Mr McDonald was appearing for one of three applicants who are appealing over a High Court judgment that rejected their challenge against the Government’s handling of the Brexit process.
Last week in the High Court in Belfast, Lord Justice Bernard McCloskey said the issues raised by the three joined cases touched on political matters that the courts should not intervene on.
On Monday, all three were before a panel of three Appeal Court judges, led by the region’s Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan.
Appearing for an anonymous applicant, Mr McDonald argued that the European Union (Withdrawal) Act passed by Parliament in 2018 compelled the Government to seek a deal that protected north-south co-operation on the island of Ireland and ensured there was no new border infrastructure erected.
He said an exit that resulted in a hard border would run contrary to the “will of parliament”.
Summing up, Mr McDonald warned that Brexit could have a major negative impact on the peace process accord.
“This has lit a fuse to a stick of dynamite under the Good Friday Agreement,” he said.
“And we are trying to extinguish the fuse at this stage”.
Another of the applicants is victims’ campaigner Raymond McCord.
While his barrister was arguing Northern Ireland specific points related to his case in the Appeal Court on Monday, Mr McCord is also set to go before the Supreme Court later this week on the separate issue of the prorogation of Parliament.
Mr McCord will be heard as an “intervenor” in the Supreme Court case assessing the challenges against the Government’s decision to suspend Parliament that were heard in Scotland and England. His appearance has been scheduled for Thursday.