Belfast Court of Appeal dismisses Brexit strategy legal challenge

The Court of Appeal in Belfast has dismissed an application that the UK Government’s Brexit policy will damage the Northern Ireland peace process.

Three applicants appealed against a Belfast High Court judgment that rejected their challenge against the Government’s handling of the Brexit process.

One of the applicants was high-profile victims’ campaigner Raymond McCord, whose son was murdered by loyalist paramilitaries in 1997.

It comes after the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that Prime Minister Boris Johnson acted unlawfully in shutting down parliament for five weeks.

The three-judge Court of Appeal, led by the region’s Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan, gave their judgment on Friday morning.

The three challenges focused on various aspects of a no-deal Brexit on October 31.

One that argued the Government’s Brexit policy will damage the Northern Ireland peace process was previously dismissed by the High Court.

During the appeal hearing last week, Mr McCord’s  barrister Ronan Lavery QC told the court that if a Brexit extension could not be secured by the Government in the absence of a deal, then the default position should be halting Brexit – through the revocation of Article 50 – rather than exiting with no deal.

Mr McCord, who was not at court due to ill health, said he would study the Belfast Court of Appeal judgment with his lawyer.

“I, along with many other people, believe that it will affect the peace process,” he said.

“I hope I am proven wrong. We did not take this case to alarm people, it is what I believe in.

“It would be nice if in the coming years people can come across and say: “Look Raymond, you were wrong. It did not affect the peace process’.

“I don’t want it to affect the peace process.

“I don’t want people to go through what my family and members of other families have went through.

“I respect the judgement of the Appeal Court in every way, I believe the judges sitting there are amongst the best judges in the UK.

“I have to respect their judgment.

“However, it is a fear I have that the peace process will be affected.”

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