Northern Ireland news

Son of loyalist murder victim Joseph Kelly loses High Court challenge to DUP-Tory deal

The high court in Belfast

THE son of a loyalist murder victim has lost a high court challenge to the alleged consequences of the DUP's deal with the Conservatives.

Joseph Kelly's lawyers claimed the £1 billion pact to support Theresa May's government cast doubt on the secretary of state's independence.

But a judge dismissed his application for leave to seek a judicial review.

Proceedings centred on the 'confidence and supply' agreement struck in June last year.

In return for Northern Ireland receiving £1bn, the 10 DUP MPs are to back the minority Conservative government in Commons votes.

Mr Kelly, whose father Joseph who shot dead by loyalist paramilitaries in 1972, was not contesting the legality of that political arrangement. Instead, it was contended that nothing had been done to protect against any consequent allegations of bias.

Hugh Southey QC, for the applicant, told the court: "The challenge is to the failure to ensure the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is adequately independent in the roles she must undertake."

"The DUP will inevitably have a degree of influence over government," the barrister said.

Mr Southey claimed the failure to put in place the necessary safeguards led to a systemic problem.

Under the terms of the Northern Ireland Act the secretary of state must remain independent in able to perform the necessary duties, the court heard.

However, Mr Justice McCloskey said: "There's no concrete decision by the secretary of state expressing any legal power under challenge, nor is there any concrete evidential framework of a failure by the secretary of state to express any legal power."

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