HARTE COYLE COLLINS SOLICITORS & ADVOCATES
PATRICIA BURNS & DANIEL MCCREADY APPEAL LEGACY
PROPOSALS TO THE NI COURT OF APPEAL
13TH DECEMBER 2021
Patricia Burns and Daniel McCready, relatives of two victims of the Troubles have lodged an
appeal to the Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland for refusal of leave to seek a judicial
review of the proposals published by the Secretary of State in July 2021. Those proposals
indicate that the Government at Westminster seeks to close all current avenues of criminal
investigations, civil claims, judicial inquests, and criminal prosecutions in relation to legacy
In November 2021 both Patricia Burns and Daniel McCready asked the High Court in Belfast
to take the unusual step of providing an advisory judgement on the constitutionality and
lawfulness of the proposals set out by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in the July
2021 Command paper. Both Applicants sought this advisory judgement prior to the
publication of the Bill in order that the parliamentary debate following the introduction of the
Bill might be properly informed.
The Northern Ireland Office had previously indicated that the draft legislation would be
introduced at the beginning of December 2021. It is now anticipated that the Bill will be
introduced in early 2022.
The Applicants seek leave from the Court of Appeal in Belfast for court declarations that the
purpose of the legacy proposals is unconstitutional, unlawful, in contravention of the
Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol and the British Government’s international obligations
under Articles 2 & 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights (which permit no
derogation in peacetime). They also seek a declaration from the court that the proposals
represent interference with the independent functioning of the judiciary in Northern Ireland.
They seek declarations from the Court of Appeal in Belfast that any legislative provision
which purports to introduce an amnesty protecting all those suspected of an offence during
the “Troubles” from criminal investigation and prosecution would be so fundamentally
unconstitutional that it could not lawfully be enacted by Parliament or given effect by the
Courts in Northern Ireland and would be in contravention of domestic and international law.
They seek a declaration from the Court of Appeal that any legislative provision which
purports to introduce a statutory bar to terminate all investigations into offences during the
“Troubles” would be so fundamentally unconstitutional that it could not lawfully be enacted
by Parliament or given effect by the courts and would be incompatible with their domestic
and international legal obligations.
They also seek declaration from the Court of Appeal that any legislative provision which
purports to prohibit further civil claims or inquests, or any other court proceedings, or to take
steps to terminate such proceedings which are pending before the courts, on the basis that
they relate to incidents during the “Troubles”, would be such a fundamentally
unconstitutional interference in the role and function of the judiciary that it could not lawfully
be enacted by Parliament or given effect by the Courts.
Patricia Burns is the daughter of Thomas Burns who was shot by the army on 13th July 1972
outside the Glen Park Social Club in North Belfast. The shooting is not disputed by the
Ministry of Defence. He was an ex-serviceman having served in the British Navy for 10 years
returning home to live in Belfast with his wife and four young children. Ms. Burns has an
ongoing civil claim against the Ministry of Defence and the Chief Constable of the PSNI. She
also applied for a fresh inquest into her father’s killing relying upon new evidence provided
by ex-soldiers to the, since defunct, Historical Enquiries Team. The Attorney General for
Northern Ireland refused a fresh inquest despite accepting that the original inquest verdict
was wrong in fact and in law. That decision by the Attorney General is also currently the
subject of a judicial review challenge.
Daniel McCready is the nephew of Jim McCann who alleges his uncle was shot by the army
in the New Lodge area of Belfast on the 3rd of February 1973. Jim McCann was one of six
persons shot in what has become known as the New Lodge 6 shootings. In February 2021, the
Attorney General for Northern Ireland directed that a fresh inquest take place in respect of all
six killings. A date has not yet been fixed for the inquest.
Nichola Harte of Harte Coyle Collins, Solicitors & Advocates said today.
“We remain confident that our Court of Appeal will take the opportunity to objectively and
impartially review these legacy proposals and provide an advisory judgement on the
lawfulness and constitutionality of their purpose. We say again that while this remains an
unusual preemptive legal challenge, our clients continue to challenge these proposals now
as, if this Bill is enacted, the victims across all communities in Northern Ireland will all
have lost their opportunity to achieve truth, accountability and justice.”
The Applicants are represented by Nichola Harte and Patricia Coyle of Harte Coyle Collins,
Solicitors & Advocates, Senior Counsel Barry MacDonald QC, SC, and Junior Counsel
Malachy McGowan BL
Harte Coyle Collins
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