Brexit: Ex-Fianna Fail minister Dermot Ahern backs Raymond McCord court move

Dermot Ahern.Picture by Arthur Allison

A FORMER Irish government minister has told lawyers mounting a challenge to the UK leaving the European Union he is "aghast" at Brexit's potential impact on the Good Friday Agreement.

Dermot Ahern set out his concerns at the implications for both sides of the border in correspondence being seen as offering support to proceedings issued by the father of a loyalist paramilitary murder victim.

Victims campaigner Raymond McCord is seeking to judicially review the British Government's move towards Brexit.

With the case set to get underway at the High Court in Belfast next week, his lawyer has been in contact with Mr Ahern.

The ex-Fianna Fail politician, whose cabinet career included serving as Foreign Affairs Minister and Justice Minister, responded by email to wish Mr McCord well.

In the correspondence he confirms his views on Brexit expressed in a weekly newspaper column.

Mr Ahern wrote: "I am aghast at the potential negative fallout for this island as a result of the vote, not least the implications for the Good Friday agreement architecture."

Mr McCord's lawyer, Ciaran O'Hare, claimed the former minister's concerns are indicative of wider views held in the Republic.

The battle to stop the UK quitting the EU is now set to move into the courtroom, amid claims that it would be unlawful to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty without Parliament voting on the move.

A similar challenge is also being mounted on behalf of a cross-party group of MLAs and other interested parties.

Mr McCord's legal team contend Brexit will undermine the UK's domestic and international treaty obligations under the Good Friday Agreement, and inflict damage on the Northern Ireland peace process.

The campaigner, whose son Raymond McCord Jr 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.

His case centres on the Government's response to the June 23 referendum result.

His lawyers claim they were not given assurances that Article 50, the mechanism under which the UK begins the formal process of quitting the EU, will not be invoked without first securing a Parliamentary mandate.

Any attempt to use Royal Prerogative powers instead cannot be justified, they contend.

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