Northern Ireland

Loyalist victim’s wife only got ‘half of what she wanted’ with legacy court ruling

High Court finds immunity plans unlawful

Families attended  the judgment hearing on the lawfulness of the legacy act At Belfast High Court on Wednesday. 
Mr Justice Colton declared that parts of the legislation aimed at dealing with the consequences of the conflict in Northern Ireland breach the European Convention on Human Rights.
The Belfast case was brought by Martina Dillon, John McEvoy, Lynda McManus and Brigid Hughes.
PICTURE COLM LENAGHAN
Martina Dillon at Belfast High Court on Wednesday. PICTURE COLM LENAGHAN

The British government has been urged to “scrap” the Legacy Act after the High Court found plans to introduce Troubles immunity unlawful.

The contentious Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Act passed into law last September.

In Belfast on Wednesday, a High Court judge ruled that conditional immunity for offences committed during the Troubles and plans to close down some civil actions are unlawful.



Several people impacted by the Troubles had challenged the troubled legacy legislation including Martina Dillon, whose husband Seamus was shot dead by the LVF in December 1997.

Mr Dillon’s inquest opened last year but has yet to commence and could be one of those inquests that don’t meet the May 1 cut-off date.

At that point the case will transfer to the ICRIR.

Ms Dillon said she was “gutted” by Wednesday’s ruling adding she only got “half of what I wanted”.

“That’s what I have been fighting for 26 years for,” she said.

Ms Dillon said that despite the ruling she will continue to campaign, adding “the fight goes on”.

Protests take place  , As Families attended  the judgment hearing on the lawfulness of the legacy act At Belfast High Court on Wednesday. 
Mr Justice Colton declared that parts of the legislation aimed at dealing with the consequences of the conflict in Northern Ireland breach the European Convention on Human Rights.
The Belfast case was brought by Martina Dillon, John McEvoy, Lynda McManus and Brigid Hughes.
PICTURE COLM LENAGHAN
Protest before Legacy judgment Truth campaigners in Belfast on Wednesday PICTURE COLM LENAGHAN

He solicitor Gavin Booth, of Phoenix Law, said the Legacy Act had suffered a blow.

“The High Court has given the Legacy Act a bloody nose in so far as it has told the Tories that immunity is unlawful,” he said.

“Today the High Court said that the ICRIR must act in accordance with the articles two and three of the convention in its investigations and those before it will still be the subject of criminal prosecution.”

Director of the Committee on the Administration of Justice, Daniel Holder said it was time for the act to go.

“NIO (Northern Ireland Office) ministers built the whole architecture of this new limited legacy body, the ICRIR, around their amnesty scheme,” he said.

“Ministers themselves said the ICRIR would be ‘critically undermined’ and would have no ‘chance’ of functioning without it.

“This was their justification for closing everything else down.

“By their own logic they now need to scrap this whole bill.”

Families attended  the judgment hearing on the lawfulness of the legacy act At Belfast High Court on Wednesday. 
Mr Justice Colton declared that parts of the legislation aimed at dealing with the consequences of the conflict in Northern Ireland breach the European Convention on Human Rights.
The Belfast case was brought by Martina Dillon, John McEvoy, Lynda McManus and Brigid Hughes.
PICTURE COLM LENAGHAN
Legacy Act Judgment Some of those who gathered outside Belfast High Court on Wednesday PICTURE COLM LENAGHAN

Mark Thompson from Relatives for Justice said that Mr Morgan had previously emphasised the need for the legislation to be ECHR compatible.

“This creates quite a moment for Declan Morgan,” he said.

“He told Relatives for Justice during the summer that if the legislation was found to be incompatible with the ECHR that he would consider his position.

A spokesman for the ICRIR said: “In its judgment, the court has confirmed that the commission is independent and is capable of carrying out investigations which are compliant with the European Convention on Human Rights.

“The Commission is therefore properly and lawfully established.

“We will study the court’s judgment in detail and seek to reflect this as we refine our proposals to carry out independent investigations from this summer.”

Kevin Winters, of KRW Law, who represents some families said: “Today’s case will have a potential positive impact on 100 civil actions which were stayed as a result of the Legacy Act.”