A JUDICIAL review has been launched against the British government's controversial Legacy Bill, which passed into law this week.
The bill will see the shutting down of inquests and investigations into Troubles-related killings as well as the creation of a truth recovery commission offering amnesties for those who cooperate with its enquiries. The bill is opposed by every political party in Ireland.
On Friday Madden & Finucane Solicitors confirmed that in response to the passing into law, pending royal assent, of the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Act 2023, the law firm have lodged judicial review proceedings in the High Court for six families bereaved through State violence in which they are challenging the lawfulness of this legislation and its compatibility with international human rights standards.
High Court proceedings have been lodged on behalf of:
Billy Thompson, son of Kathleen Thompson, who was shot dead by a member of the Royal Green Jacket regiment in Derry on 6 November 1971. In 2022 a Coroner rejected the evidence of a former soldier who killed Kathleen Thompson and referred the matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Caseworker Paul Butler reports from the Springhill inquest with Justice Schofield dedicated to concluding before the Legacy Bill's guillotine falls https://t.co/Jj8ORZR91w— Relatives 4 Justice #NeverGivingUp (@RelsForJustice) September 15, 2023
Jonathan McKerr, son of Gervaise McKerr, who was shot dead near Lurgan on 11 November 1982 when members of an elite firearms unit of the RUC, fired more than 100 rounds into a car driven by Mr McKerr killing him and his two passengers. All three were unarmed. An inquest into their deaths has never been concluded. In May 2001 – more than 22 years ago – the European Court of Human Rights found the UK to be in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights because no effective investigation had ever been conducted into Gervaise McKerr’s death;
Una Eakin, widow of Gerard Casey, who was murdered by loyalist paramilitaries on 4 April 1989 in Rasharkin, north Antrim. Gerard Casey had been threatened in Castlereagh in the 1980s and a legally held shotgun was seized by the RUC during a house raid six months before his death. One of the weapons used in Gerard’s murder was a VZ58 assault rifle imported into the north of Ireland by a UDA intelligence officer and paid agent of the British Army’s Force Research Unit. In 2007 Gerard’s inquest verdict was quashed by the High Court and in July 2010 the Attorney General for NI ordered a new inquest into his death. In 2022 the Police Ombudsman published a report which found ‘collusive behaviour’ between security forces and loyalist paramilitaries in his murder.
‘You have given people a license to murder.’— The SDLP (@SDLPlive) September 6, 2023
SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood has urged the Irish Government to issue a legal challenge to the British Government’s Legacy Bill. https://t.co/bOGwS55oj9 pic.twitter.com/nlxp4w4hcE
Linda Hewitt, sister of Sam Marshall, who was murdered by loyalist paramilitaries on 7 March 1990 in Lurgan. Sam had just left Lurgan RUC station after signing bail. In a small urban area patrolled by at least 11 heavily armed undercover British soldiers on foot, in observation positions and in cars, two UVF men were able to enter the killing zone, murder Sam and attempt to murder his two companions, and safely withdraw from the area unhindered.
Teresa Jordan, mother of Pearse Jordan, shot dead by the RUC on the Falls Road, Belfast on 25 November 1992. In 2016 a Coroner formally referred two former RUC officers to the Public Prosecution Service to consider whether they should be prosecuted for perjury or perverting the course of justice arising from their evidence to the inquest. No prosecutorial decision has yet been taken.
If ever people in NI needed a reminder of how little the British government cares, MP's have now passed the UK Legacy Bill, despite opposition from all of NI's political parties, human rights groups, and importantly, the victims.— Emma DeSouza (@EmmaCDeSouza) September 6, 2023
Eamon Cairns, father of Gerard and Rory Cairns who were murdered in their home by the mid Ulster UVF in October 1993. In 2019 a loyalist paramilitary admitted on a BBC Spotlight programme that he and others had conspired to murder every male member of the Cairns household and that intelligence had been received directly from the RUC. VZ58 assault rifles were used in the murders. In May 2023 a file was submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Madden & Finucane Solicitors will also be lodging applications for families directly affected by this legislation to the ECHR in Strasbourg over the coming weeks.